Food producers heading to Cramlington for biggest-ever festival

Michiko McCartney

Dozens of the best local food and drink producers are heading to Cramlington for the town’s biggest-ever food festival.

It takes place on Saturday July 30 and Sunday 31 July in Seven Oaks Park and admission is free.

Already this summer organisers of the Cramlington Proper Food and Drink Festival have brought their recipe for successful events to South Shields, Whitley Bay and Seaton Delaval Hall – which staged the ever-popular North East Chilli Fest earlier this month.

Thousands of visitors have sampled and bought food and drink made by people who are passionate about what they do.

“It’s an ideal way to showcase some of the amazing things they make,” said Mark Deakin who – alongside wife Shelley – is behind the Proper Food and Drink Festivals. “But we’re also determined to bring our festivals to new places to give as many people as possible a chance to discover the variety of produce that’s now available.

“It’s a festival in the proper sense of the word. There’s music and entertainment to make it a great day out for all the family.”

The Deakins’ festivals attract producers from all over the UK. “We’ve known some of them for years now and it’s great to see how well they’re doing. They’re like a big family,” said Shelley.Suzanne and Gary Cannon

At Cramlington one of the producers is in fact a member of the Deakin family – Mark’s sister Suzanne Cannon. She is a nurse and her husband Gary is a window fitter, but on days off they are busy in the kitchen at their home in Sheffield creating and bottling sauces for their Hot Stuff Chilli Company. “It’s difficult, but if you believe in something you find the time,” said Gary. “Chilli’s a bit like Marmite,” said Suzanne. “You either love it or hate it. It’s a bit of a macho thing as well – people come up and ask for the hottest we’ve got.”

Also appearing at Cramlington is Tokyo Kitchen. It is run by Russell and Michiko McCartney from their home in Whitley Bay and provides authentic Japanese street food. Russell is a sales manager with a recruitment company and Michiko learned to cook in Japan where her father was a chef.

“The food business is opening up because of these festivals. People seem a lot more interested and they can come up and try different things,” said Russell.

Entertainment at all The Proper Food and Drink Festivals is provided by Tony Eastlake of Guerilla PA and Events. He has also witnessed the development of a community amongst the traders, where they support each other even if they are selling similar products.

“You also see them coming with set ideas, testing them out with customers, then – by the next time – they’ve adapted those ideas. It’s great to see. They are so determined to get it right,” he said.

The Cramlington Proper Food and Drink Festival runs from 10am to 5pm on 30 and 31 July in Seven Oaks Park which is opposite the Vue Cinema.