I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never been into Comber, well maybe to pick up a few spuds over the years but never to shop there. I feel even worse about this after hearing that recent travellers came from Australia and the States to visit, but I’m yet to make the 20 minutes trip down the road! This changed today, as I was asked to pay a visit to the Farmers Market and take part in the judging of the Easter bonnet competition.
The Farmers Market takes place on the first Thursday of every month in St Mary’s Parish Church from 9.00-1.30pm and sees around 20 artisan producers selling their wares. There is a good mix of well-known suppliers such as Keen Nutrition, Broughgammon Farm, Harnett’s Oils, as well as the less well-known such as Trainview Farm, NearyNogs Artisan Chocolates and the Uncommon Garden Company and despite being a rather chilly day the place was buzzing.
Tearing myself away from sampling the Easter treats, I remembered I was there to do a job and as some of the bonnets looked so spectacular, I knew I had to take judging seriously – so much so I was labeled the Simon Cowell of the judging group!
Entrants were invited to wear a hat decorated with an Easter theme to the market and they were judged on how they stuck to the theme, as well as showing originality and skill. The other judges were Irene McBride from Discovery Glass in Comber and Winnie Magee who designs and makes waterproof coats in her factory/workshop, The Lightning Tree on High Street. We were all very impressed with the colours and designs – lots of yellows, speckled eggs, flowers, heather and even some fluffy chicks thrown in for good measure (not real ones of course!)
Although the competition was aimed at adults, there were a few children that entered with a few wonderful masterpieces, with a little help from their parents of course. The first prize of a hamper of products from the market went to Gillian Downings from Newtownards for her spectacular hat, decorated with ivy, flowers, bees and butterflies, second prize of dinner for two with a bottle of wine donated by Sugarcane Bistro went to Lauren Pinkney from Bangor who had one of the tallest and brightest bonnets on show and 3rd prize of afternoon tea for two was donated by the Peppercorn Cafe and it went to Joan Warrington who had a simple but effectively designed bonnet. The winner of the children’s prize went to Eva Morgan who had to most beautifully designed bonnet that had Easter themed items like hot cross buns, Easter eggs and even an Easter bunny – all made out of felt and cardboard. It was a clear winner in my book and looked good enough to eat, but I guess that was the point. Her younger brother, Arron Morgan, 3 years old, won 2nd prize and Jessica Boyd aged six from Comber came third.
Councillor Deborah Girvan who helps to run the market said, “I was a bit apprehensive about running an Easter Bonnet Competition in case nobody turned up with their decorated hats, but I needn’t have worried as ladies and children filtered into the market throughout the morning wearing their fabulous, innovative creations. There is no doubt the judges had a difficult job deciding who the winners would be.”
The next Comber Farmers’ Market takes place on Thursday 7 May and although the Easter theme will be over, I have been assured there will be lots of other treats to sample, maybe even a few spuds!
By Grainne McGarvey Spotting local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com