The ever popular Proper Food and Drink Festivals, which attract thousands of visitors every year, are returning to two North Tyneside towns in 2017.
Entry is free and they will take place in Northumberland Square in North Shields over the May Bank Holiday weekend (29 and 30 April and 1 May) and along the Spanish City Plaza in Whitley Bay on 17 and 18 June (Father’s Day).
The first Proper Food and Drink Festival was held in North Shields in 2012. “We always like coming back,” said Mark Deakin who, with his wife Shelley, organises the events. “We can’t believe how much they’ve grown over the years, but they’re still run on the ideas we first used in North Shields.”
The town will kick off a summer of Proper Food and Drink Festivals which will also visit South Shields on 17, 28 and 29 May. After Whitley Bay in June it will return for a second year to Cramlington on 29 and 30 July, before heading to two new venues: Saltwell Park in Gateshead on 5 and 6 August and Ridley Park in Blyth on 12 and 13 August.
At each festival there will be around 60 food and drink stalls and kitchens. There will also be live music and a large choice of hot food and drink to help make them days out to remember.
“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 festivals 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.”