FERRET racing was the top attraction at a garden festival at the weekend.

The race was at the fourth Teesside Autumn Gold Garden Festival, Preston Hall Park, Eaglescliffe.

Sheila Crompton, who runs Bolton Ferret Welfare, and is a member of the National Ferret Welfare Society, hoped the event would raise money for ferret welfare charities.

Sheila, who has 50 ferrets, and has been organising ferret shows and displays for the last eight years, including stints on television, said: "I have a playpen which gives people a chance to get hands-on with the ferret and stroke them. But in addition, we staged racing throughout the day.

"The course is basically pipe-work but we do introduce new things, such as a water feature, just to make things more fun and interesting."

All the ferrets at the festival belonged to Sheila and are all rescue animals.

"I do try to find them new homes, but I must be the world's worst re-houser," she admitted.

"I think if there is one message I would like people to take away from the event, it is that ferrets are not the nasty, horrible smelly animals that most people think they are.

"They are actually funny, loveable little creatures once you get to know them."

Gardening enthusiasts also enjoyed the weekend festival and were able to stock up on plants.

The show attracted a wide range of growers and nurserymen and demonstrations were given by top horticulturists.

Children were able to take part in a wild flower planting scheme in the park and there was Ceroc dancing, a swing band and birds of prey, plus other entertainments.