Thousands visit first day of Bishop Auckland Food Festival

The first day of this year’s Bishop Auckland Food Festival has proved a hit with visitors.

Thousands streamed through the Market Place and Auckland Castle grounds to sample food, drink and crafts from local producers, whilst families enjoyed live music, activities and master-classes.

This year’s pop-up restaurant takes the theme of Indian street food with The Urban Rajah and catering students and staff from Bishop Auckland College. Earlier this year The Urban Rajah launched his Burotis, which are “Indian roti style wraps” packed with regional Indian ingredients.

The Tipple Tent also proved popular with local breweries bringing their finest ales and craft beers to the castle grounds.

Free entry to Auckland Castle is available across the weekend, giving visitors a chance to view collections before they are packed away in September in preparation for building works.

“It’s a really exciting time at the castle. From the summer onwards we’ve got three major projects that are about to start the building phase,” explained Liz Fisher.

These include landscaping in the walled garden and preparations for a new restaurant, the new welcome building in the Market Place and the energy centre which will provide the heating and electricity supplies.

More than 500 people made their way into the castle in the first few hours of the festival.

“Bishop Auckland is well and truly at its best,” said Councillor Lee Brownson, Mayor of Bishop Auckland.

“The food festival has gone from strength to strength. I was a part of the original set up on the back of the foot and mouth crisis when in the Auckland Castle grounds, just in front of St. Peter’s chapel, we had 14 – 15 stalls.”

Bishop Auckland’s new town mascot joined the Town Team outside the Newgate Shopping Centre. Bishop the Boar represents the legend of a wild boar which terrorised the town hundreds of years ago. A competition to encourage food festival visitors into Newgate Street and Bondgate was organised with children were able to win a cuddly boar.

Organisers said today the festival is worth £700,000 to the local economy and Councillor Brownson expects another record-breaking turnout after 38,000 visited in 2015.