Sticky business – planning the World’s Original Marmalade Festival!

Sticky business – planning the World’s Original Marmalade Festival!

Dalemain Mansion definitely differs from most country houses in its winter activities. Where most historic houses are closing down at the end of the season, we’re gearing up for our biggest event of the year – the now internationally renowned World’s Original Marmalade Awards & Festival.


Founded by Jane Hasell-McCosh, owner of Dalemain, in 2005 after the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic, the Awards were originally intended to raise the spirits, bring people to Cumbria and fundraise for local hospice care. Now, 12 years later, we are expecting to receive over 3000 jars of marmalade and to significantly add to our total of over £200,000 raised for charity.


The Awards ceremony and festival will take place on 18th & 19th March 2017, at Dalemain and in Penrith town centre, but we start planning long before. Here at Dalemain we’ve already launched the competition for 2017; creating new entry forms, sending out information, and discussing entertainment, stalls and speakers for the festival weekend. This year also saw the very first Australian Festival of Marmalade, held on 20th November in Adelaide, and organised by the South Australian National Trust in partnership with the Dalemain Awards. We celebrated the launch of both festivals with a reception at the Palace of Westminster, with speeches from the Australian High Commissioner and local MP Rory Stewart, a fantastic and totally unique event.


Now, as Christmas approaches, we are beginning to plan for the soon-to-come onslaught of marmalade. We have already received our first parcels, and as we enter Seville Season we can’t wait for more! We have been talking to our wonderful volunteers, who organise the unwrapping and logging, as well as the WI, who are keen judges of the Homemade Marmalade Competition. We are also trying to make sure that as many people as possible know about the Awards – sending out leaflets, sharing stories on social media and working with charities all over the UK to spread the message.


The full Homemade competition entry fee goes to charity, and you can choose to donate a large portion to the hospice charity of your choice, meaning that we support not just hospice care in Cumbria, but all over the world, with entries from as far afield as Singapore, South Africa, Australia, the USA and the Czech Republic. We’ve created some exciting new categories, including ‘Octogenarian’s Marmalade’, ‘Gardener’s Marmalade’ and Tate & Lyle’s ‘Marmalade with a Twist’.


As well as the Homemade competition, we’re hard at work organising the Artisan competition too, which champions small producers who make high quality artisan marmalade. This competition is judged by an esteemed panel of food experts, and we’ve been busy booking in writer and food guru Dan Lepard, Pam ‘the jam’ Corbin, and Shirley Spears, head of the Scottish Food Commission, to name but a few!


We hope people get inventive for 2017, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with!


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