FOOD lovers from as far afield as Holland came to the city last weekend to celebrate its most famous produce, rhubarb.
The sixth annual Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb came to Wakefield for three days, attracting 96,000 visitors, making this year’s event the most successful so far.
The event, held around the Cathedral Precinct, saw a giant inflatable dome on the Bull Ring complete with inflatable rhubarb stalks, market stalls and tours of the famous forcing sheds in Carlton.
Visitors were also entertained by street performers, live music and the temptation of local produce to sample and buy.
Led by event mascot Ruby Rhubarb, the festival included a cookery demonstration, jewellery-making workshops for children and book signings from writer Elaine Lemm, author of The Great Book of Rhubarb.
Children’s TV duo Roobarb and Custard also made an appearance at the Trinity Walk shopping centre throughout the weekend event to raise money for the PDSA vets charity.
Horbury’s Cricketers Arms set up a beer tent in the Bull Ring, showcasing local breweries’ beers, including Five Towns’ Roo-Barb and Fernandes Rhubarb Bitter.
And Wakefield Music Collective’s Rhubarb Rocks event took place at the Bull and Fairhouse pub, which included performances from local bands The Sinners and The Rocketeers.
Candle-lit tours of the famous forcing sheds of E Oldroyd & Sons at Carlton, attracted many visitors, including Outwood and Morley MP Ed Balls.
Janet Oldroyd-Hulme, director at the company, said she was blown away with how successful the weekend was.
She said: “I know many people were staying over for the weekend. We did have some from overseas who came on the visits. As always it was a resounding success. One lady said ‘I’ve been all over the world and seen things but this is in the top ten of the best things I have ever seen.” One visitor had come all the way from Holland while others had travelled from London, Bath, Birmingham and Surrey.
Mrs Oldroyd-Hulme added: “Whoever thought that we’d have something so special for people to see here in Wakefield?”
Coun David Dagger, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “We have had fantastic feedback on the festival, not only from visitors but from local businesses as well. The three days were a huge success and there was a real buzz around the city centre.
“The festival has grown in strength from year to year and provides a huge boost to Wakefield’s local economy, with an estimated visitor spend of £20 per person. I would like to thank all the local businesses and the support of the visitors near and far that make this festival the success that it is.”