Jam – from blueberry to strawberry – is one of life’s pleasures whether it is tea with bread and jam, spread on scones with cream, a roly poly or the filling in a Victoria sponge.
Now, it is set to be celebrated at what is believed to be the world’s first jam festival. It will be held at Helmsley, centred on the Walled Garden, from Friday September 11 to Sunday September 13.
The festival is the brainchild of Anna Lupton, owner of Carr House Farm Bed and Breakfast at Ampleforth, who said the North Yorkshire market town is the perfect setting for celebrating a foodstuff that is a staple ingredient in kitchens worldwide.
“Jam was made as far as back as the 1st century AD and as in other rural areas the North York Moors still has its fair share of talented jam makers who like nothing better than using homegrown produce to create great preserves that can be enjoyed in sandwiches, cakes, scones or add a new dimension to savoury dishes,” she said.
Anne, who has run her B&B for 42 years and organises Ryedale Business Awards, has made jam all her life. Her 97-year-old father George also makes it and once took first prize in the jam-making category at the Wass Women’s Institute show.
The World Jam Festival will celebrate the glories of the sweet treats as well as providing a stage for Steampunk fans to indulge their love of eccentric Victorian costumes.
The theme will include Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter’s tea party which features in Lewis Carroll’s children’s book.
The White Rabbit, Alice and Dormouse are some of the guests at the Mad Hatter’s affair.
“I wanted to do something like Pickering’s War Weekend and to help all businesses – and also something which was fun,” said Anna, who will dress as the White Rabbit for the event.
Jam makers can get creative with competition categories such as tipsy for preserves that include a hint of alcohol; exotic for flavours that go beyond the normal; and a special Under 20s category to find the next generation of jam-making talent.
Anna is likely to enter her fig jam made from the fruit of a tree that grows in her garden.
The judges will include respected Yorkshire chefs and restaurateurs such as Andrew Pern, Frances Atkins, Michael Wignell, James Mackenzie and Adam Jackson.
Other festival activities across Helmsley will include afternoon tea with the Mad Hatter at The Feathers hotel, tea duelling competitions to find the best biscuit dunker, croquet games and the opportunity to tuck into jam-infused ice cream at Ryeburn Ice Cream Parlour.
Musical entertainment will add to the occasion as well as the opportunity to simply sit and soak up the atmosphere as Steampunk fans stride out in costume.
Helmsley Lido will be judging the best Steampunk swimming costume while those donning Alice in Wonderland outfits will stand a chance of winning a fancy dress prize at the Walled Garden.
The Helmsley Rural Arts Centre will also be involved in the programme of activities.
“Steampunkers are also very partial to a good afternoon tea and tea duelling competitions so it made sense to open up the occasion to the legion of fans who will create a great spectacle for visitors,” said Anna.
There will also be a shop window trial, a duck race, Scouts will be serving afternoon teas and the Wool Shop is providing knitted bunting.
The posters and pamphlet design was done by Ampleforth-based artist Stephen Bird and features Alice in Wonderland characters, Helmsley’s features and PC Walker in honour of the late
Peter Walker, the Ampleforth author who inspired the Heartbeat TV series.