ALAN CASTLE: Congratulations are on the menu

Plenty of interest in the goodies on The Plough's stall at Alnwick Food Festival.
Plenty of interest in the goodies on The Plough's stall at Alnwick Food Festival.

What a buzz there was in Alnwick Market Place at the weekend.

There was a myriad stalls at the 10th annual Alnwick Food Festival selling an amazing range of products, mostly local, and a host of traders all too willing to help or give samples.

As I wandered round, I was so tempted by all the offerings, I couldn’t resist dipping into my pocket. Don’t tell Mrs C (although I suspect she was making the odd sneaky purchase herself!).

It seems I wasn’t alone, as most producers seemed to be cheerfully reporting a profitable weekend.

Then there was the super beer festival, bolted on for good measure. Well done, Round Tablers. The two events work so well in tandem.

I was somewhat surprised by the reaction of stallholders, however, because I didn’t think the visitor numbers were as high as recent food festivals, particularly last year when the sun blazed down on the event all weekend.

I reckon the drizzly weather on Saturday and those infernal roadworks on South Road near the war memorial were to blame.

Traffic was gridlocked throughout Saturday lunchtime – it must have put off a lot of people. I know these things have to be done but surely they could have been suspended for one of the biggest weekends in Alnwick’s year.

No doubt once the gasworks have been completed, the electricity people will be digging up the same patch and disrupting our lives once more.

Perhaps the utilities companies might one day talk to each other to co-ordinate their work – we live in hope!

Thankfully, though, enough people made it through the obstacles to make the food and beer festival an event worthy of note in the national culinary calendar.

While we still mourn the passing of Alnwick Fair, it is good to see the upstart food festival taking over the mantle and the Alnwick International Music Festival still going strong.

Any town in the country would be proud to host such splendid events.

Long may they last and long may the good folk of north Northumberland continue to support them.