Tasty treats makes festival a success

Mark Deakin, David Carnaffan of Salute Brewery, and Shelley Deakin at the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.
Mark Deakin, David Carnaffan of Salute Brewery, and Shelley Deakin at the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.
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Thousands of people flocked to North Shields as a food festival once again drew in the crowds.

The North Shields Food and Drink Festival was the last in a series of events this summer which has seen producers visit Whitley Bay, Cramlington, and South Shields.

The first ever festival was held in Northumberland Square in 2012 and organiser Mark Deakin said the recipe for success has become a blueprint for the others.

He said: “It’s always nice to come back here. We’ve always had a soft spot for North Shields and it was great to see so many people turn up.”

Local producers said the event has also benefited them.

Dominike Couchinho, of Rural Country, was able to showcase the meats, cheese and wine of his native Portugal; David Carnaffan, director of the North Shields-based Salute Brewery, helps former servicemen and women bridge the gap between service and civilian life; while June Whiting, of The Goat Company, was able to spread the taste of her high-quality meat.

Dominike recently opened a food boutique in Newcastle.

He said: “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without people trying my food at festivals like this one.”

Salute Brewery works closely with the military charity Forward Assist.

David said: “We wanted to find an industry that could offer genuine, proper and realistic work experience for people who would also enjoy what they are doing. After playing around with a few ideas, the brewery was the one that we felt was a real goer.”

“The idea behind it is that military veterans who struggle to re-integrate and find work after leaving the services, come to us for work experience in order to be better equipped for a job in manufacturing or work in other breweries – which is a real growth area.”

Salute Brewery’s beers Able Seaman and Bee Company – made with honey from hives which are on the roof of Eldon Square – are already proving popular with a major local pub chain

David, whose brewery is based in Prospect Terrace, North Shields, added: “People like to buy local. And you can’t get more local than us.”

June and Martin Whiting had only sold their goat meat from their farm in Longwitton, near Morpeth, before taking part in last year’s North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.

They sold out then and were well on their way to selling out this year as well.

“People are very conservative in their food habits – particularly when it comes to the type of meat they choose,” said June. “But they are becoming more adventurous, and once they try our meat they want to come back for more.”

Although this was the last Proper Food and Drink Festival of the summer, many of the producers will be heading to the Northumberland Village in Blyth’s Ridley Park, which is being set up in time for visitors to this week’s North Sea Tall Ships Regatta.