Thousands set to visit South Shields for Proper Food and Drink Festival
Food lovers are licking their lips as a popular free festival returns to South Shields this weekend.
The best locally-produced food and drink will visit the town between Saturday and Monday in the Proper Food and Drink Festival.
The annual event has been taking place at Bents Park since 2012, giving opportunities for local suppliers to sell their produce.
Dozens of North East food producers, brewers, butchers, distillers, bakers and chefs will have their produce showcased this weekend.
Mark Deakin, who runs the event with his wife Shelley, said: "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.
“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 to Bents Park.”
Mrs Deakin said: “Other festivals seem to come and go, but we like to think we have become a bit of a diary date for lots of people in the North East.”
The park will be open between 10am and 5pm throughout the weekend for the event.
Meanwhile, the Great North Feast will return to Bents Park during the August bank holiday weekend, between August 25 and 27.
A number of local suppliers have turned their passions into successful careers after the events and even opened restaurants, cafes and shops.
The festivals feature live music and the smells of freshly cooked food – with influences from across the globe - to suit all tastes.
This year, visitors will also notice an absence of plastic.
Mr Deakin said: “There will be no single use straws and we’re encouraging all our suppliers to do everything they can to use containers and packaging that can be recycled.”
Tynemouth Coffee Company, which has been ever present at all the Proper Food and Drink Festivals, is among those taking the lead.
Stuart Douglas, one of the company's partners, said: "Our cups, lids, straws are all compostable.
"All of our packaging is cardboard.
"We don’t have anything that’s plastic.
"Our coffee bags are aluminium so they can be recycled as well.
“It was quite expensive for us to do this, but we had to go with it because it was the ethical thing to do.
"It’s got to be the way forward.”
Entrance is free.