MORE than 27,000 food fanatics flocked to Chester Racecourse to celebrate the finest food and drink in the region.
Over the Easter bank holiday weekend bakers, cheesemakers, butchers and brewers filled the lawns of the racecourse as the Chester Food Drink and Lifestyle Festival returned for it’s 10th year.
For three days families enjoyed live entertainment, aspiring chefs battled in cook-offs, and hundreds of people gathered to watch celebrity chefs transform local produce into delicious dishes.
Glorious sunshine saw couples picnicking on the lawns, drinking champagne and cider while the City of Chester Training Brass Band, drummers and street artists entertained packed crowds.
Organisers have heralded this year’s festival as the biggest and most successful ever, bringing an estimated £1.5m of much needed income to the city.
Chester city management committee Stephen Wundke said that the festival was the biggest one yet: “There were over 27,000 people, Saturday was the most successful day with more than 10,000 people at the Racecourse.
“It was fantastic to see so many people eating and drinking and enjoying the entertainment, there was a real buzz. The festival is fantastic for Chester, it was the biggest food and drink festival over the Easter weekend.
“It just gets bigger and better every year, the word keeps spreading. Everyone enjoys it, it is a family focused event and we hope it will be even bigger next year.”
Highlights of the festival included the curry cook off, where local Indian restaurants battled to create the hottest dish in Chester, the best sausage competition, and cooking demonstrations by chefs Simon Rimmer and Michael Caines.
And it wasn’t just the adults who enjoyed the food, children dressed up in chef’s whites to enjoy cooking sessions, making exotic dishes under the guidance of chef Mike Bollard.
Father-of-two Jamie Monaghan from Hoole whose daughters, Lilly, six, and Grace, four, enjoyed making cous cous salads said that the festival was a great day out.
“The look like they are enjoying themselves. They quite like cooking anyway. The festival is really good fun but I did not expect it to be so educational as well.”
Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Mike Jones, who attended the festival on Saturday with his two daughters, said: “It has been a really good day. This event showcases the quality produce which exists in Cheshire and brings business to the city.”
The festival remained trouble free despite arrests after two men attempted to break into the racecourse on Saturday night and steal produce from stalls.