The head of a North Shields business group has welcomed the return to the town of a highly popular food festival.

Around 60 traders will be setting up their stalls in Northumberland Park on 20 and 21 August.

Entry to the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival is free and, as well as a feast of food and refreshments to choose from, visitors can listen to live music and enjoy a drink at one of the festival’s bars.

David Bavaird, chairman of the North Shields Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “The festival has become one of the highlights of the summer.  We are delighted to see it back again.  It always brings a lot of people into the town and that’s good news for the shops, cafes and restaurants in North Shields.”

In 2012 organisers Mark and Shelley Deakin chose the town as the first location for their Proper Food and Drink and Festivals.

“It’s always good to return here,” said Mark.  “Northumberland Square is the perfect spot.  We’re really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.”

Following their initial success in North Shields, the Deakins have taken their recipe of locally produced food and drink alongside live entertainment to Whitley Bay, South Shields and – for the first time last month – Cramlington.  This summer tens of thousands of people have popped along for a couple of hours or spent a day enjoying some of the very best local produce.

“We’ve got every kind of food available and none of it is mass produced,” said Shelley.  “It’s definitely made with a lot of tender loving care.”

Over the years the Proper Food and Drink Festivals have provided a shop window for dozens of traders who were determined to turn their passion for cooking, baking or brewing into something more.

Some have been so successful that their hobby has turned into a full-time job.  Festival regulars Papa Ganoush and Monsieur Crepe, for example, will be opening their first restaurant and café later this year.

“It’s great to see them all do so well,” said Mark.  “Shelley and I used to stay up most of the night making our chilli sauces to sell at festivals and markets, so we know how hard everybody works.”

Shelley added: “It’s hard to think that it’s only in recent years that opportunities have been created for local producers to share what they do.

“People have always developed their own recipes and styles but probably only had family and friends to try them.  That’s why we love putting on the festivals which really allow them to test just how good they are.”

Following the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival, the Deakins and many of the traders will be heading to Blyth for the Tall Ships Festival. Further ahead the couple have exciting plans next year for an even bigger North East Chilli Fest – which has attracted massive crowds to Seaton Delaval Hall for the past five years – a new festival in South Shields called The Great North Feast, and another summer of Proper Food and Drink Festivals.

For further information visit www.properfoodanddrinkfestivals.co.uk/north-shields