A popular food festival is heading to North Shields – and has received the backing of local businesses.
Around 60 traders will be setting up their stalls at the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival, which will take place in Northumberland Square on Saturday and Sunday.
As well as a feast of food and refreshments at the event, visitors can enjoy live music and a drink at one of the bars.
And the event, which is free entry, has been backed by the North Shields Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
Chairman David Bavaird said: “The festival has become one of the highlights of the summer.
“We are delighted to see it back again.
“It always brings a lot of people into the town and that’s good news for the shops, cafes and restaurants in North Shields.”
In 2012, organisers Mark and Shelley Deakin chose the town as the first location for their Proper Food and Drink Festivals.
Mark said: “It’s always good to return here. Northumberland Square is the perfect spot.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.”
Following their initial success in North Shields, the Deakins have taken their recipe of locally produced food and drink alongside live entertainment to Whitley Bay, South Shields and – for the first time last month – Cramlington.
Shelley said: “We’ve got every kind of food available and none of it is mass produced.
“It’s definitely made with a lot of tender loving care.”
Over the years the Proper Food and Drink Festivals have provided a shop window for dozens of traders who were determined to turn their passion for cooking, baking or brewing into something more.
Some have been so successful that their hobby has turned into a full-time job.
Festival regulars Papa Ganoush and Monsieur Crepe will be opening their first restaurant and café later this year.
Mark said: “It’s great to see them all do so well. Shelley and I used to stay up most of the night making our chilli sauces to sell at festivals and markets, so we know how hard everybody works.”
Shelley added: “It’s hard to think that it’s only in recent years that opportunities have been created for local producers to share what they do.
“People have always developed their own recipes and styles but probably only had family and friends to try them.
“That’s why we love putting on the festivals which really allow them to test just how good they are.”
Following the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival, the Deakins and many of the traders will be heading to Blyth for the Tall Ships Festival.
Further ahead the couple have exciting plans next year for an even bigger North East Chilli Fest – which has attracted massive crowds to Seaton Delaval Hall for the past five years – a new festival in South Shields called The Great North Feast, and another summer of Proper Food and Drink Festivals.
For further information visit www.properfoodanddrinkfestivals.co.uk/north-shields