Thousands of people flock to County Durham food festival

People across County Durham and beyond came to Bishop Auckland to celebrate all things food, when a popular festival returned at the weekend with extra flavour.

Thousands of people attended this year’s Bishop Auckland Food Festival, laid on by Durham County Council, and enjoyed two days of trying tasty dishes, taking part in workshops, and watching exciting entertainment in the town’s Market Place.

Cooking enthusiasts got to watch a variety of top TV chefs and bakers demonstrate their skills in the outdoor cookery theatre, which was hosted by TV presenter Chris Bavin.

The cookery line up included MasterChef’s John Torode, Great British Bake Off star Briony Williams, world-class chocolatier Paul A Young, contestants from this year’s MasterChef Tom Rhodes and Mike Bartley, as well as Epivegan Brett Cobley and TV presenter and chef Joe Hurd.

Visitors also got to learn how to bake delicious goodies in workshops with Bake Off favourite Jane Beedle and hear from some of the festival’s traders in a series of talks with food broadcaster Nigel Barden.

With more than 100 traders using the weekend as a chance to share their fantastic goods and meet new customers, the festival provided a significant boost to businesses trading both at the festival and in the town itself.

This has been particularly important this year in supporting the region’s economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Phil Elliott, co-owner of Breaking Bread, said: “This weekend has been fantastic. Coming here in 2019 helped us in setting up our own permanent shop in Bishop Auckland, so it’s nice to be back and reconnect with familiar faces, as well as being able to meet loads of new people.

“We have had to do a lot in the past year to keep business going through the pandemic, so being able to trade and share our food at the festival has been really great for us.”

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We’re delighted with the success Bishop Auckland Food Festival has had this weekend with its highly-anticipated return.

“It’s been great to see so many people turn up and enjoy all the stalls, demonstrations, workshops and entertainment while also supporting hundreds of local traders and businesses within the town. This festival is responsible for a significant economic boost for businesses, which has been even more vital this year following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Events like Bishop Auckland Food Festival are also a key part of County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025, as they demonstrate the power of culture to bring people together and enhance the vibrancy of our communities.

“We hope everyone has had a fantastic weekend and I want to thank all the staff and volunteers who have been involved this year for their hard work and efforts to make the festival happen. We look forward to seeing you all again next year.”