NANTWICH Food and Drink Festival was hailed “the best yet” after massive crowds visited over the weekend.
The annual celebration of all things food brought the sweet taste of success to organisers with its not for profit company.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday was heaving with food-lovers from all over the country helping to set tills rings in shops across the historic town.
More than 30,000 people visited in 2013 and organisers are confident this year’s mouth-watering event exceeded that.
A new lay-out including a huge Mornflake-sponsored food hall on Bowling Green car-park and another backed by Bentley on Love Lane car-park helped draw visitors to side streets and independently-run speciality shops.
On the town square chefs showed off their skills in a seated food theatre while Reaseheath College invited youngsters to ‘milk a cow’ in its marquee.
Also new for 2014 was late-night shopping on Friday with professional street entertainment including glamorous stilt-walkers and fire-breathers.
Across town traders reaped the benefits of streets thronged with visitors from all over the country, with many doubling their takings or using the festival to showcase new products.
Nantwich’s new Marks and Spencer store helped draw visitors to the Beam Street side of town with attractions including food and floral marquees as well as band music and the St Luke’s bus selling designer clothes at bargain prices.
Improvements also included better signage round town and extended Park and Ride facilities at Barony Park, Malbank and Brine Leas School.
Motorists were asked to give donations which helped raise thousands of pounds for the Rotary, scouts and other charities who manned the areas.
Shops across town staged demonstrations and workshops inviting visitors to try their hand at making pork pies, pizzas, cookies and cocktails.
Tastings at Residence and Rodney Densems drew queues of champagne and liqueur-lovers.
Festival chairman, Deborah Robb, of Nantwich Food and Drink Ltd, said: “This was simply the best. There was a phenomenal turn-out each day and lovely friendly atmosphere.
“After five years of staging the festival we can proudly say it is probably the largest and most successful in the country.
“We were blessed with crisp sunshine and an amazing bunch of volunteers who helped everything run smoothly. A massive thanks to them.”
Enzo’s on the town square sold 300 coffees in one day and Chatwin’s sold the same number of pork pies in one morning.
Nantwich Bookshop did excellent trade with its new exotic flower teas and breakfasts. Densems served more than 500 champagne and wine tastings.
Fashion-lovers found offers on clothes, shoes and handbags while other businesses such as cafes and restaurants gave discounts on meals.
Nantwich solicitors Hall Smith Whittingham welcomed over 1000 visitors to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party while the town museum was busy with children learning about food and bees.
Deborah added: “Last year we carried out an economic survey but we haven’t this time. You simply had to look at the streets thronged with families to know the town did well.
“The new lay-out and signage saw more people visiting the businesses along Hospital Street and Pillory Street.
“Again the feed-back was all about the festival’s ‘feel-good factor’ and we were delighted to see so many local shops doing brisk trade.
“Clearly the weekend proved a massive economic boost for Nantwich and showcased the town as a delightful place, not only to visit, but live.
“This is backed up by feed-back from estate agents. They tell us town events like the festival and its community spirit are often the reason why people settle in Nantwich. How good is that?”