Fans of lovingly produced food and drink are in for tasty treats this summer with the confirmation of six Proper Food and Drink Festivals and one Great North Feast.
Proper Food and Drink Festivals will take place in North Shields and South Shields on the two May Bank Holidays, followed by Whitley Bay in June, Cramlington in July and Gateshead and Blyth in August. The summer ends with a return to South Shields for the Great North Feast over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The Proper Food and Drink Festivals begin in 2012 and have since increased in number and popularity. In 2018, for the first time, the organisers have linked up with Smooth Radio which will be running competitions and promotions.
“People who have come to the festivals know that music is very much part of the atmosphere and Smooth plays songs which are certainly in keeping with the spirit of our events,” said organiser Mark Deakin. “We are delighted to have them on board.”
From the first in North Shields six years ago, the Proper Food and Drink Festivals have provided a showcase for local producers – making everything from gin to jam. A number of them, who started brewing or baking – for example – as a hobby, have turned their passions into successful careers and even opened restaurants, cafes and shops.
“We are so proud of the support we have been able to provide,” said Mark, who with his wife and fellow organiser Shelley, were once producers themselves.
“We used to make chilli sauce and we know how hard it is to be up all hours getting ready for a festival and then spending two or three days literally on your feet,” he said.
“It can be really tough and they certainly earn their money. I’m sure this year they’ll again get tremendous support from the tens of thousands of people who come along.”
Each festival will feature the produce from dozens of North East food and drink artisans. Freshly cooked street food, inspired by cultures all around the world, will also be available. Alcoholic and soft drinks can be bought from bars and stalls.
“Other festivals seem to come and go,” said Shelley Deakin, “but we like to think we have become a bit of a diary date for lots of people in the North East.”
Proper Food and Drink Festivals:
5, 6, 7 May – Northumberland Square, North Shields.
26, 27, 28 May – Bents Park, South Shields.
16, 17 June – Whitley Bay, Spanish City Plaza.
28, 29 July – Cramlington, Seven Oaks Park.
4, 5 August – Gateshead, Saltwell Park.
11, 12 August – Blyth, Ridley Park.
All festivals are open from 10am-5pm. Apart from Gateshead – where there is a small admission fee of £2 – entrance is free.
The Great North Feast takes place in Bents Park, South Shields on 25, 26 and 27. Admission is £2. Further details will be released soon.