THOUSANDS came out once more to enjoy the sights, sounds and the wonderful flavours of the Accrington Food & Drink Festival.

On Saturday, June 3, Accrington town centre was, once again, awash with foodies and revellers as they enjoyed what has come to be something of an institution in the town every year.

The 20th annual Accrington Food Festival, organised by Scott Dawson Advertising, built on the success of the previous two years, attracting numbers that even eclipsed the 14,000 of last year’s event.

Murray Dawson, Managing Director of Scott Dawson Advertising, said: “This is the third year in a row that we have had the privilege to arrange the Accrington Food & Drink Festival. We at Scott Dawson Advertising take immense pride in the role we have taken up in keeping the festival going and that we have been able to increase attendance ten-fold since we began organising the event. And, considering the sheer amount of people, we can report that the event went very smoothly

“We are always looking for fun new events and stalls to bring to the festival and this year we were really spoilt for choice. Richard Fox, in his third year at the festival, was fantastic as always, the WW2 re-enactment, the cooking demo from The Balti House, the Accrington Pals bus, the Oops Upside Your Head record attempt and many, many of the other attractions went down brilliantly.

“We are incredibly happy about the positive feedback we have received, stall holders told me after the event that they made more money than they do in larger cities in the UK, and we hope to be involved with this wonderful event for many years to come.”

Live cookery demos in the theatre kitchen, hosted by celebrity chef Richard Fox, wowed the crowds. Over 70 food stalls lined the town centre streets offering everything from Catalonian meatballs and fresh, oven-baked pizza to chilli jam and prosecco cocktails.

97% of all the retailers on the day said that they would come back again, with Asmma Zafar, owner of Tishy’s Cakes summing up her day in one short sentence: “Brilliant! I sold out.”

A dramatic World War 2 re-enactment, to commemorate D-Day, took place on the grounds of St James’ Church, complete with authentic weapons. The battle, which was between American and German troops, drew fantastic crowds as the sounds of the shots booming around the churchyard created a fantastic atmosphere.

The live cookery demonstrations were also a big hit with Chef Fox cooking up North African Shakshuka, a dish consisting of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.

Addressing the crowd, Richard Fox, said: “I can’t believe it’s been three years since the first time I came to Accrington for the food festival. It’s great to see everyone here and it looks like it’s getting bigger every year – so thanks to you all.”

One the largest and most popular attractions of the day was the live demonstration by the wonderful chefs from The Balti House, Rishton, who turned heads as the scent of fresh chicken jalfrezi wafted around the market stalls. Celebrity Chef James Martin once described the food at The Balti House as “one of the best curries I’ve ever had in this country.”

Another of the day’s highlights was the ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ unofficial record attempt which was carried out with great joy in the grounds of St James’ Church. There was also a poignant side to the record attempt as it was dedicated to the late Evonne Harwood – the ‘Wonder Woman of Warner St’ – who was instrumental in organising the record attempt and sadly passed away on April 22. The event was coordinated and the dancing choreographed by George De Rosa from Clubbercise Hyndburn. The event also raised money for East Lancs Hospice.

Culinary students from one of the event’s main sponsors, Accrington and Rossendale College (AccRoss), managed to get a few mouths watering with their gin and tonic sorbet creation while the event’s other main sponsor, Duckworths Estate Agents, were running the hook-a-duck stall to raise money for cancer research.

Mayor of Hyndburn, Peter Britcliffe, said: “It really is a fantastic event which growing from strength to strength every year. There were 14,000 people last year and wouldn’t be surprised if records were broken this time around.”

AccRoss students were also on hand in the market hall as they helped children write their names on sponge Accrington NORI bricks to build into a WW2 style Anderson shelter display.

There was lots of attention for the static tank and the old Accrington Pals bus which was on display – as money was raised to return the old bus to its former glory.

The support for the idea of restoring the last Accrington Corporation bus remaining in the colours of the East Lancashire Regiment was truly overwhelming. The proposal to make the restored bus available to local schools to transport children to local attractions was received with great enthusiasm.

Restored in its original colours the bus will unquestionably stand as a symbol of the civic pride of Accrington – a visual link to the history of the town

For more information and update on the Accrington Food & Drink Festival visit www.accringtonfoodfestival.co.uk/