It had all the ingredients for success.

A combination of glorious weather and cuisine from around the world along with thrilling mix of live entertainment drew record-breaking crowds to the Bishop Auckland Food Festival at the wekeend.

Up to 30,000 people flocked to the town’s centre to try an abundance of different dishes from local traders, while cooking enthusiasts had the chance to watch a star-studded line up of top TV chefs and bakers who demonstrated their skills in the outdoor cookery theatre.

The Northern Echo: Record crowds were drawn to the Bishop Auckland Food Festival Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTRecord crowds were drawn to the Bishop Auckland Food Festival Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Read more: Pictures of Bishop Food Festival 2022 on Day 2 - can you spot yourself?

The cookery line up, hosted by presenter Chris Bavin included TV chef and presenter John Whaite and Great British Bake Off favourites Crystelle Pereira, Karen Wright and Chigs Parmar.

Matt Pritchard, also known as Dirty Vegan, was there along with MasterChef The Professional’s finalist Philli Armitage-Mattin; and Bishop Auckland’s own celebrity chef and MasterChef contestant Mike Bartley.

Some visitors also got to experience the luxury of fine dining with a special event hosted by Mike, who provided a gourmet four-course evening menu at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, created from local ingredients.

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With more than 150 traders using the weekend as a chance to meet new customers and share their fantastic goods, from street food and delicious desserts to artisan produce and locally brewed beverages, the festival provided a significant boost to businesses trading both at the festival and in the town itself.

Liza Johnson, owner of the Tea Enthusiasts, said: “It’s been amazing. I always love coming to Bishop Auckland Food Festival because of the range and variety of produce that they have here and the sheer number of traders. If you want to know what produce County Durham has to offer, this is the place to find out.

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“The festival is also a great opportunity for local and independent traders to build their customer base and benefit from the thousands of visitors it attracts.”

Simon Barrett, the Chilli Jam Man, said: "It has been fantastic. The crowds have turned out. I am based just outside York. It's great to travel about and to get my brand out.

"I have been to this festival five times. I always try to come to this one. I have post Covid chosen my favourite food festivals and I just focus on the really good ones now - and this is definitely on that list."

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Carol Peacock of Parlour Made Cheese in Mordon, near Sedgefield, said: "We are dairy farmers. We come every year. It is a fantastic event. It's a great way to showcase our local produce.

Read more: Pictures of Bishop Auckland Food Festival Day 1 - can you spot yourself?

"The sun is out and people are out enjoying themselves. And the cheese is flying off the shelf."

Carina Nausner, of Durham Coffee, said: "It's been going well. The weather's really great and everybody is out. It's definitely busier than last year. It's nice to be back.”

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Visitors were happy too. Arthur Hopgood of Whitworth Meadows, Spennymoor said: It's fantastic. Absolutely brilliant. It's the first time we are here. It can only benefit the town."

Wife, Linda added: "We have actually been living in Australia for 30 years and have not been long back. Bishop Auckland seems to have gone streets ahead since we left. I hope it continues and this is great for the town."

John Ramsay of Sunderland John Ramsay of Sunderland said: "It's very well set out and a good choice and variety of stores. It is a nice day and there are a lot of people here and it's very lively."

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This year the festival was also a key part of County Durham’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025, showcasing how people can get involved in culture through food.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “It has been fantastic to welcome back visitors and traders once again to Bishop Auckland for two whole days of fun, food and entertainment. This year we’re delighted to have returned to our regular spring date, kicking off the county’s festival season with an explosion of flavour.The Northern Echo:

"Events like Bishop Auckland Food Festival are also a key part of County Durham’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025, demonstrating the power of culture to bring people together and enhance the vibrancy of our communities.

“We hope everyone has had a fantastic weekend and I want to thank our traders and celebrity guests, the festival’s supporter and sponsors, and all the staff and volunteers for their hard work and efforts to make this weekend happen.”

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