A sunny September day saw Nelson Food and Drink Festival thronged with thousands of visitors flocking to the town centre on Saturday.
They were rewarded with a full day of foodie fun and the chance to sample a wide range of delicious treats at the fabulous free festival with a multi-cultural flavour.
Mayor of Pendle Coun. Nawaz Ahmed, who opened the festival, mingled with the crowds, enjoying the entertainment and talking to stallholders in the Worldwide Food Market.
“I believe there were easily eight to nine thousand people here in Nelson today,” said a delighted Coun. Ahmed.
“I am really pleased to see the town so busy - at one point there were so many people in the food market I could hardly move. This has been a very different kind of event for Nelson and it has really brought the whole community together. I hope to see more events like this in future.”
Centred on The Shuttle monument, the event began with Nelson town crier Tony Edwards welcoming everyone before handing over to the Mayor for the ribbon cutting.
What a great day! I’ve had a really friendly welcome from the people of Nelson and Pendle and what wonderful food we’ve seen cooked and on sale here todayChef Richard Fox
With more than 20 stalls selling everything from sausages to samosas and cupcakes to chicken, the Worldwide Food Market was busy from the off, with stallholders reporting an excellent day’s trading and still busy as the festival drew to a close at 4pm.
Highlights of the day were live cookery demonstrations in the outdoor cookery theatre next to The Shuttle with celebrity chef Richard Fox.
He performed three demonstrations and hosted two others given by local restaurant Spice of India and the festivals’ main sponsor, Nelson and Colne College. Its lecturer Mark Taft was joined by John Jones from the award-winning Seafood Pub Company and together they rustled up a three-course gourmet menu.
After each session the spectators were invited to sample the dishes created. Richard Fox is also a great campaigner against food waste and was delighted to welcome Pendle’s own chef, writer and ‘food activist’ Gill Watson, who talked about her culinary career and work to cut food waste and help people eat well.
A visual highlight was a colourful half-hour performance by the Punjabi Roots Dance Academy, whose programme fused traditional Indian dancing and music with modern pop rhythms and drew a large crowd of spectators roaring its approval.
Free face painting and henna art were on offer in Nelson marketplace. Upstairs in Pendle Rise shopping centre a ‘Cakelicious’ children’s cake decorating competition was busy all day. It was sponsored by another of the festival’s key supporters, Oddies family bakers, which supplied plain cupcakes and decorating materials, with students from Nelson and Colne College on hand to help.
Scores of visitors arrived at the festival in style aboard a classic 1968 Leyland Titan double-decker bus. Supplied by Darwen Transport Trust, it ferried passengers for free, running on two routed from Burnley and Barnoldswick for most of the day.
As the festival drew to a close, chef Richard Fox commented: “What a great day! I’ve had a really friendly welcome from the people of Nelson and Pendle and what wonderful food we’ve seen cooked and on sale here today.
“It’s certainly helped to have such a lovely sunny day, but for me the things I’ll remember are the friendly folk and the fabulous food.”