THIS summer thousands of people have been heading off to festivals up and down the country.

And whether it is music or the latest culinary trends dominating the line - eating will always play a major part in proceedings.

This year’s Glastonbury rejoiced in a rare mud-free week and alongside Radiohead, Nile Rodgers, Barry Gibb and Ed Sheeran Essex-based chefs were busy keeping festival-goers fed and watered.

With thousands and thousands of hungry music lovers swarming to the Somerset site, as well as V festival, Latitude and Bestival, getting a pitch can be something of a coup.

It can cost from £4,000 upwards for a food pitch at the festival, rising depending on the footfall and where you are situated.

But the rewards can be huge and the experience un-rivalled.

And a whole host of hungry revellers will take full advantage when they head to Chelmsford later this month for the annual V Festival.

Among those getting ready to keep hungry and thirsty music fans happy will be be Los Churros, Perfect Pizza and north Essex-based drinks company Shaken Udder.

Festival veterans, they have already been to Glastonbury this year and have a diary full of appearances lined up for the rest of the summer.

Owners and founders of the milkshake brand Howie and his wife Jodie Farran are based in Tolleshunt Major, near Colchester.

And V Festival is exactly where it all started 14 years ago when the couple were at the event itself as part of the general public.

Howie says he had a craving for a thick, fresh milkshake but couldn’t find one anywhere.

Having rung Jodie to tell her about his idea they later set about experimenting with flavours in Howie’s mum’s kitchen and came up with the name Shaken Udder. Howie says: “We set off to our first festival in summer 2004 with our one tiny trailer.

“Since those early days we’ve attended hundreds of festivals with our 30 strong summer festival crew, sometimes attending multiple events in one weekend with our three trailers.”

He explains there is a lot of preparation needed planning the summer schedule.

“Throughout the winter months, when we’re not on the road, we’re busy with all the paperwork and festival applications and in spring we’re planning the festival teams and logistics. “The summer itself is always incredibly busy. When we return from an event we clean, re-stock and re-pack all the vehicles, then it is straight back out on the road again a day or two later. From May to September it’s go, go, go.”

Howie says one of the huge bonuses of being at the festivals, apart from them being great fun, is getting to speak to customers in person.

“We have some amazing and truly dedicated fans, many of whom we see year after year at the same festivals.”

In fact, the bottled range of Shaken Udder Milkshakes, which are on sale in Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s Ocado and Co-Ops, were created after festival-goers began asking where else they could get them.

“Our bottled milkshakes are made with real fruit or chocolate, British milk and contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives,” adds Howie.

And he says this year they have also introduced three new festival specials - chocolate, strawberry and salted caramel cheesecake flavours.

“They’ve gone down very well so far! We’re also trialling a delicious new Kinder Bueno flavour too,” says Howie.

This summer the team will have been at more than 20 festivals, including V Festival Chelmsford on August 19 and 20 and finishing with Bestival, on the Isle of Wight.

The Salty Shack, a pop-up ethical seafood restaurant from Mersea Island, made its debut at Glastonbury Festival this year ten months after it launched.

Owner Abi Gibson says her first taste of running a restaurant at Glastonbury was incredible and she is keen to attend more in the future.

“I think we served around 4,000 people across the weekend and there was a team of around 50 of us, including me, making sure it all happened.

“It was very hard work and very full-on but completely worth it and I think we learned a huge amount and built a following which will lead to other things as we already have other festivals booked,” she explains.

The eaterie was based in the hospitality area of the event, in a tepee provided by fellow Mersea company Events Under Canvass, and was one of the only two sit-down restaurants on the entire site, the other being at the John Peel Stage.

Next year the festival takes a year out for the site to recover but Abi says the company which sponsors the John Peel Stage each year ate at the Salty Shack and are talking to them about appearing as its Boutique restaurant when the event resumes in 2019.

“It was an amazing experience and I think learned a lot from it. It was a total team effort.

“We had quite a number of familiar faces in there as well although I often did not know who the football stars were.

“A lot of the waitresses were telling me once they had left that the last customer had been someone from The Only Way is Essex or Made in Chelsea but I don’t watch those shows !”

She did however spot actress Sienna Miller and Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy, when he came in to eat.

“I told him my daughter is a huge fan of Star Wars and the next day he came back with a postcard with a picture of C-3PO on it, personally written to her, from him. He was so lovely.

“We also had the Eavis family, the own the site and run the festival, eat with us. They are really, really nice people,” she adds.

Rising music stars Naughty Boy and Jamie XX were also among those to enjoy the Salty Shack menu which included wild boar hotdogs, scallops, mezze and even lollipops.

“We wanted there to be the option for people to have a three course meal if they wanted to and it went down really well.

“I learned a lot from it and also got a lot of really positive feedback,” says Abi.

There are now plans for the Shack to serve up dishes at Bestival, on the Isle of Wight and it is already signed up for Car Fest North, the festival arranged by DJ and TV presenter Chris Evans in aid of Children in Need as well as having had a recent spot at the last ever Secret Garden Party, in Huntingdon.

“We are also still doing corporate and private parties including weddings and birthdays so there is a real variety,” she says.

Chef Angus Lockhart, also from Mersea, has recently joined the team and will be front of house cooking and entertaining guests.

Abi says : “I am really looking forward to the future now, it is really exciting.”

Find the Salty Shack on Facebook.