Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 14.12.00South Shields’ popular Proper Food and Drink Festival is returning to the town’s Bents Park this Bank Holiday weekend.

Around 60 of the finest artisan producers will be selling some of the finest tasty treats the country has to offer.  Entry to the event – which is in its third year – is free.

In 2015 20,000 people came to the festival which is organised by husband and wife Mark and Shelley Deakin. This year the couple are also staging Proper Food and Drink Festivals in Whitley Bay, North Shields and Cramlington.

“We try to big bring events to new places,” said Mark, “and have been thrilled by the response we have had in South Shields.  Last year, on the Monday, most of the traders finished the day sold out.  I’ve never seen that before. Whatever the weather we know that people are coming to have a good time and discover some of the amazing products that are available.”

Mark and Shelley were well-known figures when they worked in the Newcastle club scene. They also developed a highly successful range of chilli sauces, through the Hot Stuff Chilli Company, which were stocked by retailers including Selfridges and Fenwick’s.

Shelley, who managed the popular Foundation night club, said: “We used to be bottling until 2am and heading off to a festival to sell our sauce at 5, so we know how hard everybody works.

“It’s amazing what’s happened over the past few years.  There are more and more really good producers who have turned their hobbies and passions into successful small businesses and our Proper Food and Drink Festivals provide a perfect opportunity to show how good they are.”

Former promoter Mark said: “We realise how important it is for them and they put a lot of faith in us.  They know we care and will always go the extra mile.  We invest a lot of time and money to market the festivals.  It’s just like putting on an act in a club.  You create an event, make sure everything’s just right and then get that feeling of nervous excitement as the doors open,” said Mark.

“Although the food and drink is the most important thing, we try to make sure that anybody coming to Bents Park enjoys themselves.  There’s live entertainment, hot food and licensed bars selling real ales, ciders, cocktails and wine.”

The South Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival takes place on Saturday 28 May to Monday 30 May and is open from 10am to 5pm each day.