South East Northumberland will play host to two Proper Food and Drink Festivals in 2017.
Organisers Mark and Shelley Deakin have confirmed that after a hugely successful first ever event in 2016, the festival will return to Cramlington’s Seven Oaks Park on 29 and 30 July.
The following month it will visit Blyth for the first time, with around 60 producers setting up their stalls and kitchens in Ridley Park on 12 and 13 August.
At both locations there will also be live music and a large choice of hot food and drink to help make them days out to remember. Entry is free.
“We were overwhelmed by the number of people who came to the Cramlington Proper Food and Drink Festival,” said Mark. “You’re always a bit nervous for the first one, but it couldn’t have gone any better.”
The couple also ran the Northumberland Village in Ridley Park during August’s North Sea Tall Ships Regatta in Blyth.
“It was great to be part of such a successful event,” said Mark. “The Tall Ships was fantastic and it’s helped create a real confidence and optimism in the town. Let’s hope Blyth’s very own Proper Food and Drink Festival will help that feeling continue.”
The number of festivals have been growing since the first one in North Shields in 2012. In 2017, as well as Cramlington and Blyth, Proper Food and Drink Festivals will take place in South Shields, Whitley Bay, North Shields and – for the first time – Gateshead.
“I think we’ve got the recipe just about right,” said Shelley. “We want to appeal to the growing number of people who appreciate and enjoy beautifully produced food and drink, but also couples and families who just want a great day out.”
The events have also proved to be a successful shop window for producers, generating enough interest to help some turn their passion into a living.
“We’ve seen a lot of people develop and refine their offer and we’ve shared with them the great satisfaction of seeing people queuing up to buy their product,” said Mark.
As well as the Proper Food and Drink Festivals, the Deakins are putting the final touches to a new event – the Great North Feast – which is being held in Bents Park, South Shields on 25-28 August.
“It’s going to be huge and amazingly exciting,” said Mark. “It’s going to be a massive celebration of food and drink but it will also bring together the community for a social eating experience which has never been seen before in the North East. We’re also be trying to break loads of records.
“I love Christmas as much as anybody, but at this time of the year when it’s cold and dark you also need something to look forward to and note in your diary. That’s why we’re announcing all this now.”