Staffordshire University and Stone Food & Drink Festival combine

“This will provide real world experience in research techniques for many of the students and fits in well with our ambitions for Staffordshire University graduates."

Professor Jon Fairburn

As Staffordshire’s biggest gastronomic gathering prepares to mark its 10th anniversary in October, the team behind the event has joined forces with staff and students at Staffordshire University in a move that will not only bolster the festival’s volunteer workforce but provide Tourism and Events Management students with vital work experience.

Students have already attended several other food festivals alongside festival volunteers to help man the promotional stand as well as presenting event evaluations against which the Stone Food & Drink Festival itself will be assessed. Final year student Greta Liaudanskaite is working on a visitor survey for the festival, guided by Professor Jon Fairburn and Dr Jana Fiserova, which fellow students will conduct over festival weekend. In addition to preparing the survey questions based on what directors of the festival would like to find out, Greta will evaluate results and the exercise will form the basis of her dissertation.

Elsewhere, first year students will visit the festival on Friday with a talk from Charlotte Eglington of Squash PR on what goes into marketing an event of this size, while second and third year students will be volunteering in various roles including reviewing social media activity, acting as ‘runners’ for the demonstration kitchen and talks and tastings marquee and as guides on the festival’s Park & Ride buses.

Festival Chairman, Richard Stevens, said: “It’s been fantastic working with Staffordshire University over the past few months – we initially got in contact as we wanted to run a visitor survey to help ascertain whether there were any areas of the festival that need improving as well as some useful facts such as how far people travel to attend the event, but the ideas that the team came up with in terms of other ways they can assist are brilliant.

“As a Community Interest Company, we rely 100% on volunteers to run the event so the fact that the students are keen to get involved and that it’s of mutual benefit to them is fantastic. We hope this is the start of a long and fruitful partnership,” he said.

Professor Jon Fairburn, one of several lecturers working with the festival’s board of directors, said:
“This will provide real world experience in research techniques for many of the students and fits in well with our ambitions for Staffordshire University graduates. Tourism is of huge important to the county and the food and drink sector plays a large part in that success. We are very pleased to be working with the festival.”

The 2014 Stone Food & Drink Festival will take place on Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th October 2014 and the event’s new website, launched last month to reflect the 10th anniversary rebrand, can be found at


Maria Scrivens
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