THE sun shone and a carnival atmosphere filled a North-East town for the final day of an inaugural food festival.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of Darlington to catch a glimpse of a giant edible cake version of Locomotion No1 – the world’s first passenger engine on the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 – as it was paraded around the town.
This unique tribute to the region’s railway heritage was the grand finale at the first Distinctly Delicious Darlington Festival of Food, which took place over the bank holiday weekend.
After months of hard work and planning, organisers hailed the event a huge success and promised it would return next year.
Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington, which was behind the festival, said: “I thought it would be a success but I am a little blown away with how well it has gone.
“Even with the rain on Saturday people were saying they had sold out by lunchtime.
“It is just fantastic to see all the families out and enjoying themselves.”
The event included more than 20 stalls featuring products made by local artisan food producers, farmers, and street food sellers.
Food demonstrations by a number of top chefs, including Rockliffe Hall’s David Garlinge, also proved popular, as did pop-up bar, Gin Wizz, and a beer tent serving ice cold ale from the Richmond Brewing Company.
There was no shortage of tea-based entertainment either, with tricycle-riding tea ladies, Jean and Morag, and Birdie the 8ft Irish tea lady performing for visitors, while shopping trolley dance display team, Granny Turismo, entertained the crowds.
Mrs Hirst said the event was a chance to showcase food and local businesses from the Darlington area and beyond.
Fiona Reid, who runs her own business – Crumble and Slice – making homemade cakes, said she had sold out every day of the festival.
The 20-year-old from Middlesbrough said: “This is my first food festival and it has gone amazingly well.
“Everybody has been so friendly and welcoming.”
Running alongside the event on Saturday and Monday was the Love Your Local Market event, which saw 40 traders descend on Darlington as part of a national campaign to boost local economies.
Fire-eaters and stilt-walkers also entertained the crowds, while youngsters could take part in a circus skills workshop.