Organisers of Cramlington’s biggest ever food festival have thanked local residents who turned up in their thousands.
This was the first time The Proper Food and Drink Festival, with its mix of artisan food and entertainment, had come to the town. It has become a regular feature of the summer in South Shields, Whitley Bay and North Shields and, after a successful debut weekend, looks likely to return to Cramlington next year.
“There’s always a bit of a risk when you come somewhere for the first time,” said Mark Deakin, who runs the festivals with his wife Shelley. “But the traders had a really busy time and lots of the visitors were pleasantly surprised by the size of the event.”
Cramlington resident Pauline Thornton said: “It’s fantastic. When you think of the number of people who live here, there should be more things like this.”
The Proper Food and Drink Festivals and The North East Chilli Fest – also run by the Deakins – have provided an invaluable stepping stone for local producers who want to turn their hobbies and passions into full-time jobs.
Gary Cave and Marc Reynolds started Monsieur Crepe five years ago and have become well-known figures at North East food events.
“We started off at Tynemouth Market with one crepe machine and one table,” said Gary. “We’ve now got two gazebos and a big catering trailer as well. Things have gone well – at events like this we can sell anything from 500 to 1500 crepes.”
Monsieur Crepe’s success has encouraged Gary and Marc to take the next step and open a café in High Heaton in Newcastle.
“It’s very exciting and about time we got the house back to normal. The spare room’s full of fridges and freezers,” said Gary. The café should be open in October.
Another business inspired to go to the next level is Papa Ganoush. It is run by father and son Tim and Tom Monkhouse and, at Cramlington, was selling its hugely popular Middle Eastern street food.
Papa Ganoush also started five years ago after Tim and Tom were both made redundant. In the next few weeks they will open their restaurant in Whitley Bay which, they hope, will be first of several throughout the UK.
The Proper Food and Drink Festivals have also helped showcase some of the region’s talented musicians. Tyneside Band SoShe appeared at last year’s North East Chilli Fest and on Friday supported Fat Boy Slim at the Times Square Weekender in Newcastle.
This summer Nick Pride, from Newcastle, and Eliza Larson, from Whitley Bay have been entertaining the festival crowds.
“It’s been really nice doing them, because I’m a bit of a foodie myself,” said Nick. “It’s been an opportunity to work together and with people seeing us there’s been some spin offs – other gigs and people who are getting married next year.”
Nick and Eliza will be performing at the last Proper Food and Drink Festival of the summer which takes place in Northumberland Park, North Shields on 20 and 21 August.
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