THERE is a double reason for the organisers of a popular Exeter food festival to celebrate – this year marks its 10th anniversary and in past years it has attracted record visitors.
Last year more than 15,000 people flocked to the three-day event to indulge in top-notch South West food and drink, see television celebrities, learn from the many cookery demonstrations and workshops and to enjoy family hands-on activities.
And this year promises even more.
The Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink 2013 runs from April 26 to 28 in the beautiful surroundings of Exeter Castle and Northernhay Gardens.
Visitors can meet more than 100 talented and passionate producers behind some of the region's finest food and drink and stock up on goodies to take home.
There will also be the chance to get inspiration and tips from 30 of the region's finest culinary talents in the festival cookery theatre, hosted by two-Michelin-starred chef, Michael Caines.
The Food is Fun teepees, sponsored by Darts Farm, will host an exciting line-up of artisan food producers, culinary experts and chefs, offering workshops and activities for all the family. Young food fans can also enjoy fun and educational activities in the Little Cookies area and learn about the fun involved in "growing your own".
The foodie fun continues as the sun goes down, with the Festival After Dark Party on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights featuring music from local bands and a mouth-watering array of stalls serving regional fare, real ales and cider.
Michael Caines, Exeter Festival Co-Founder said it will be the perfect weekend for foodies.
"It will celebrate the region's amazing produce and those who create it, inspire visitors with demos from top chefs and offer the chance to get hands-on with workshops and masterclasses," he added.
"We are giving groups a great deal on advance ticket prices and a book now pay later system, making it easier for travel organisers to take their groups to the South West's ultimate foodie event."
The festival is supported by Exeter City Council and all profit from ticket sales is ploughed back into the festival for future years.
"The South West has every reason to celebrate. In these difficult economic times, when everyone is a little worried about what's around the corner, I'm delighted to report that our food, drink and hospitality industries are continuing to grow and thrive," Mr Caines added.
"And why not? If staying at home is the new going away, and the trend for holidaying in Britain is set to continue, then it looks like the South West will continue to attract more people than ever before, not least to enjoy the outstanding local and regional food and drink that we can offer here, at all levels.
"It seems the local food movement coupled with concerns about sustainability and the health of our planet really do matter to people who live here.
"A wealth of small, local food businesses continues to grow and the success of the festival demonstrates that people here genuinely do care about where their food comes from and what they eat and drink. This is not just a trend or a fad. It is a fundamental shift in how consumers and food lovers alike choose to shop, eat and drink. Long may it continue." Tickets for the festival are now on sale. For more information visit www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk