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North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Biggest ever summer for North East festival team


May 20, 2017

The team behind the highly successful Proper Food and Drink Festivals is gearing up for its biggest ever summer.

Thousands of people have already visited the first two festivals of 2017 – held in North Shields and South Shields over the last two Bank Holiday weekends – and thousands more are expected to come to the remaining ones in Whitley Bay, Cramlington, Gateshead and Blyth during the next three months.

The organisers Mark and Shelley Deakin, and their team of technicians and musicians, are also staging two other festival weekends: the North East Chilli Fest, taking place in Seaton Sluice, and a return to South Shields in August for the first Great North Feast.

The Proper Food and Drink Festivals, providing a free mix of the best local produce and entertainment, were launched in 2012 and have grown in popularity and number.  This year for the first time events are being staged in Blyth and Gateshead.  Meanwhile the sixth North East Chilli Fest is, according to Mark Deakin, going to be bigger and better than ever while the Great North Feast promises to be “totally different”.

Working with the Deakins behind the scenes are Tony Eastlake and Ryan Siddall from Guerilla PA.  “Mark and Shelley had been going for about a year before I got involved,” said Tony.  “I think they got to the point where they were being overwhelmed by the technical side of things, when they needed to concentrate on what they do best: selling the event and bringing in the traders. So I do all the cabling, all the technical stuff that’s behind the stages and behind the stalls.”

Entertainment at all the festivals is provided by musical artists Just SO, Bugman, Salida and Nick Pride and Eliza Larson. “”It’s really nice doing the festivals because I’m a bit of a foodie myself,” said Nick.  “I’d worked with Eliza a little bit, but when the festivals came along it gave us a chance to get a proper set together.  The exposure has been great in providing us with other opportunities as well.”

They will be back at the Whitley Bay Proper Food and Drink Festival on 17 and 18 June before taking to the stage at the North East Chilli Fest which starts on 30 June and lasts for three days. Then comes the Cramlington, Gateshead and Blyth Proper Food Festivals in July and August, before the busy summer finishes in Bents Park in South Shields for the first Great North Feast.

It is going to feature numerous food-related record-breaking attempts and plays host to one of eight nationwide heats of the 2017 UK Chilli Cook-Off Championship, where teams of chefs will battle it out to cook the best chilli in the North East. Cash prizes are on offer, as well as places in the UK Grand Final and – for the Great North Feast winner – an invitation to the World Chilli Championship in Alabama.

By Emily