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Monday, 30 April 2012

Food festival will give visitors plenty to get their teeth into

Organisers of this year's Dales Festival of Food and Drink – now in its eleventh year – are promising a line up of the very best of local food and farming and some key literary names with connections to the region.

The festival, at Leyburn over the 5-7 May bank holiday weekend, will feature authors Peter Robinson, the name behind the DCI Banks novels, historian Martyn Johnson and festival patron Gervase Finn whose stories of life as a schools inspector have spawned a hugely successful career.

Robinson's detective novels have been adapted for television and shown on ITV1. Born in Yorkshire, but now living in Canada, he is a regular visitor to the dales and admits that towns and cities such as Richmond and Ripon have been key influences on his fictional town of Eastvale.  He appears on Saturday.

Martyn Johnson takes to the stage as Sunday's speaker. The former policeman is now a writer, metal detectorist and historian  His best selling books detail life as a beat bobby in the 1960s and 1970s in Sheffield's toughest areas.

In his patron role, Gervase Finn said: "There is no better way of spending the May Day Bank Holiday weekend than a visit to beautiful Wensleydale for there is something for everyone at this varied and colourful pageant and the hospitality is of the very best."

The event will also feature Yorkshire’s first online farmer’s market Paganum from Kirkby Malham run by the Wildman family who have featured regularly on ITV's The Dales.

Community baker Bread Actually, which featured on BBC2's The Big Bread Experiment and opened at Bedale's Wensleydale Railway building, last year, will be at the festival and the Army will be setting up a military field kitchen to show how food is prepared for troops on the front line.

Talks and demonstrations on traditional farming skills such as sheep shearing and dry stone walling are also an integral part of the festival programme.

In the theatre marquee, live cookery demonstrations bring a further opportunity to see and sample dishes prepared by some of  the region's top chefs.

More than eighty stalls will showcase local foods including products from 18 new vendors who are promising something for all palettes from the best locally sourced meats, cheeses or preserves to traditional baking from the region.

Small breweries are represented with award-winning beers and wines served in the drinks marquee. There will be six hours of live music each day from local brass or jazz bands and traditional sword and morris dancers.

Formed  as a response to the foot and mouth epidemic, the festival was originally held in Leyburn Market Place but increased attendance prompted a move to its present just outside the pleasant market town.

The aim is to support small, local businesses, and organisers say it has often acted as a springboard to success.

Over the years, it has generated more than £150,000 for community causes ranging from tree panting to village halls.

A continental market is being staged in the town centre with a shuttle bus to and from the festival.

The Wensleydale Railway is adding its support by offering a £2 discount to admission for the festival for those arriving by rail.

Further informations is available at on facebook or twitter @DalesFoodFest.

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