Daytime TV chef Dean Edwards adds spice to East Midlands Food and Drink Festival
Thousands of foodies will descend on the county this weekend for the ninth East Midlands Food and Drink Festival.
A host of TV chefs and food experts, plus nearly 200 stallholders, are lined up to take part in the event at Melton Cattle Market tomorrow and Sunday.
Organisers said they were hoping the event would match last year's turnout of about 10,000 people.
"It was so amazing last year," said festival spokeswoman Sue Richmond.
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"We had a mini-heatwave and there were people walking around in shorts and T-shirts, so this year we want it to be sunny again."
Chefs taking part each day include Dean Edwards, a regular on ITV daytime show Lorraine, and Arfan Razak, a restaurateur who appeared on Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire.
Of the 190 stalls, 45 are new to the festival this year.
Sue said: "We've added a cocktail bar, so there'll be Tom Cruise-style shaking and juggling at the bar.
"The family food and fun zone is back and that's always popular.
"It has pasta-making and bread baking and lots of other things that children enjoy.
"We had 10,000 people last year and people seem to come from all over the place.
"We've got a couple of coaches coming this weekend."
Melton company Dickinson & Morris will be among the popular stalls at the festival and the Melton branch of real ale group Camra will be offering beer-tasting sessions.
As well as eating and drinking, gardening will also be a theme of the show, with tips on growing vegetables and herbs.
Matthew O'Callaghan, chairman of Melton Mowbray Food Partnership, said the event was important to the economy of the area.
He said: "The festival reinforces our reputation as the rural capital of food and it's a great opportunity for our producers to showcase their products.
"It brings people into the town and, along with our cheese fair, pie awards and other events, helps generate jobs and employment.
"This year's festival should be the biggest and the best so far and it's going to be really exciting."
The festival is open on Saturday, from 10am until 5pm, and on Sunday, from 10am until 4pm.
Tickets cost £5 each and entry costs £6 on the door. Entry is free for under-16s.
For tickets, call 0844 888 5181, or visit: