ALL the fun and tradition of a west country fete is on its way to Stretford Mall which is gearing up to host its first ever cider fair complete with a welly wanging contest.

Organisers have teamed up with Cider Buzz MCR to launch the inaugural Stretford Cider Party on Sunday, September 15 from 2-8pm on the green space outside the mall’s main entrance.

Stretford Sip Club bar owner Heather Garlick, who was also behind the mall’s Spirit of the Essoldo outdoor cinema and runs the monthly pop-up market with her business partner Annika Edge, has put together an event that celebrates Manchester’s rapidly rising cider revolution whilst also paying homage to the drink’s west country origins.

The Stretford Cider Party will have several stands selling a host of keg, craft and natural ciders, including products from Manchester producers Dunham Press Cider and Moss Cider.

There will also be cider tasting workshops, street food stalls with sausages from Chorlton’s Frost Butchers, live music, kids activities, Morris dancers, a clog dancing workshop, and a welly wanging contest, which will require competitors to throw a wellington boot as far as possible.

Heather, who is from Stretford, said: “There will be lots of things on that you’d expect at a country fair - it’s a little bit tongue in cheek and we hope people get into the spirit of it.

“I’ve known Dick Withecombe at Cider Buzz MCR for a number of years and we’re really excited to do something together and have a celebration of natural cider.

“It’s going to be one big party and I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s a good thing when people come together and are getting on and catching up. That social cohesion is so important.

“I’ve enjoyed putting together the cinema event and the monthly pop-up market, and I hope the cider fair will be just as successful.”

Dick Withecombe, who is part of Cider Buzz MCR and the Manchester Cider Club, added: “We’ve known Heather since she set up her bar in Stretford. She’s recently brought back the spirit of the old cinema and opened up the green space for the pop-up market so we’re really excited and pleased that she’s turned to cider as the latest way of opening up the space for families.

“She’s laid loads of stalls and activities on - we’ve got the old tradition of welly wanging because we really want it to be a family event.

“I’ll be doing regular tasting sessions, particularly for people who are new to cider. I’ll be introducing them to easy drinking cider and showing them the diversity.

“It’s one of the most modern drinks and the third largest seller after beer and wine in the UK. It’s also a true gender balanced drink with as many women as men drinking it.

“It’s also the drink that appeals most to young drinkers. They want to know where it’s from and what’s in it. With natural and quality craft ciders you know what’s in it. There are no additives and the apples have come from an orchard.”

Stretford Mall centre manager Gareth Wilkins said: “We’re really excited to be hosting the first ever Stretford Cider Party and celebrating the growing popularity of natural and craft ciders in the city.

“The fair will also be celebrating the traditions of a typical west country fete and promises to provide fun for all the family. We’re particularly excited to see the welly wanging competition!”

Dick says Manchester is now at the forefront of the natural and craft cider revolution, and believes the image of the drink is finally changing.

He said: “I was brought up on a farm in Devon so I’ve been drinking cider for more than 40 years.

“For a long time you could describe Manchester as a cider desert, but with the rise here in craft beer and breweries Manchester has been so open to cider.

“Once introduced orders have quadrupled over the past 12 months and we sell more cider now than the whole of Herefordshire.

“Manchester is leading the new cider revolution.”

Dick added: “We have a campaign to redefine cider and give it a modern image. People think of the west country and old fashioned scrumpy but cider now is a completely different product.

“It’s actually going back to its origins in the 17th and 18th century which is fine wine. These ciders are now in craft beer bars and micro bars in and around Manchester.

“They are a low alcoholic alternative to wine.”

Warwickshire-based Hogan’s Cider, which is an independent, family-run business, will be attending the event having recently cemented a presence in Manchester.

Sales manager Sophie Fitton is based in Didsbury and the company has ciders in the city’s Bundobust restaurant, Port Street Beer House, and Northern Monk Refectory MCR.

She said: “We’re passionate about working with independent businesses. Because they don’t make a lot of cider in the north we saw an opportunity in the market.

“Our ciders are made from 100% pressed cider apples. What we try to do is be quite innovative with our cider making process. We experiment with different yeasts and processes.

“There is one we do which creates a sweet cider and the process is how the French would typically make their cider.”

Sophie added: “We’re really looking forward to the event and the welly wanging! Welly wanging is particularly popular in the south west so isn’t something you hear much about in the north.

“You get a lot of them at summer fete type events, it’s very funny. For the event at Stretford we’ll be providing a bag-in-box cider as a prize for the winner of the welly wanging.”