East Midlands Food and Drink Festival: A weekend to savour at Melton Cattle Market
Fans of tasty treats flocked in their thousands to East Midlands Food and Drink Festival at the weekend.
Bright, sunny days on Saturday and Sunday helped bolster crowds at the event held at Melton Cattle Market.
More than 200 stallholders, including 50 exhibiting for the first time, tempted the taste buds of the bumper crowds with everything from French macaroons to zebra meat.
For the less adventurous, there were copious helpings of traditional foods such as pork pies, cheese and locally-brewed beer.
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Every hall at the cattle market drew throngs of people eager to sample the new and the traditional.
Among those exhibiting for the first time was Helen Taylor, who was urging people to try goat meat reared on her Black Goat Farm, in nearby Old Dalby.
She said: "I sold out of goat by Saturday lunchtime and we had to go and get some more.
"It has gone really well. We've also sold lamb and mutton, but we've had a really positive reaction from people to the goat.
"It's my first time at the festival and it's been really good."
Martin Moyden, a Shropshire cheese-maker, who was also making his debut at the show, said: "I'm really impressed with the event.
"It's well organised and our sales have gone well."
New to the event this year were horticultural stands and beer tasting.
Susan Holland, owner of Holland's Nurseries, Twyford, said: "We've just got the nurseries established and we wanted to come to the festival now it's got a horticulture section to get our name out there.
"We've been doing well."
Paul Burgess, operations director at Ullesthorpe Court Hotel, near Lutterworth, who was at the event for a second year, said: "The show's very much about eating, so we're here to talk about the dining experience we can offer as well as promoting Christmas parties."
Peter Hutchinson, 30, of Loughborough, said: "We came to the festival last year. I'm impressed with the size and scope of it. It's one of the best ones I've been to."
Partner Hollie Paterson said: "With all the varieties there are on offer, we've treated ourselves to some zebra to try."
Ken Glover, 71, of Desford, said: "It's my first time at the show and it's very good. I'm impressed with the variety of food on offer.
"I've bought some pork pie and cheese and I'll come here again."
Nick and Elizabeth Hall, who live in Buckinghamshire but have a business in Melton, were at the event with children Harry, 16, Isabelle, five, and four-year-old Matilda.
Mrs Hall, 34, said: "We're loving it. There's such a variety of foods here. The food court has Chinese, Indian and Thai.
"Isabelle loves the different cheeses."
Mr Hall, 49, said: "It's a shame we haven't got longer here, but we will be back."
Richard Clayton, 60, of Whitwick, said: "We came two years ago when it was at Brooksby. I thought that was better – there seemed to be more stalls.
"It's good, a bit expensive, but worth a visit and we'll be back next year."
The festival also included classes in bread, pasta and pork pie-making and workshops by well-known faces including Dean Edwards, a regular on ITV's Lorraine, and TV chef Rachel Green.
Matthew O'Callaghan, chairman of Melton Mowbray Food Partnership, which runs the event, said: "We are very pleased with the festival this year.
"We have a significant number of new producers exhibiting and new events, all of which add up to a cracking couple of days for visitors.
"We have a waiting list for exhibitors. We won't take just anybody and we don't have too many exhibitors selling the same products.
"We expect the numbers attending this year's event to be between 12,000 and 15,000, which beats last year."