THE crowds at the 10th annual Malton Food Lovers Festival at the weekend have been hailed as “better than ever”.

More than 30,000 visitors came to the town’s Market Place where food producers from across the county were showing off their wares in the May sunshine.

Tom Naylor-Leyland, festival organiser, said: “The turnout has been fantastic, our supporters have been phenomenal, and the crowds have been better than ever.

“The 10th annual Malton Food Lovers Festival, the highlight in Malton’s foodie calendar, has been a roaring success. It’s fantastic to see how far the festival has come since its conception 10 years ago with just 35 stalls to a 175-strong producer market today.”

The weekend was also praised by a line-up of Michelin-starred Yorkshire chefs, who entertained visitors on the Inntravel main stage. Chefs including Andrew Pern, James Mackenzie, Michael O’Hare and Tommy Banks gave cooking demonstrations, interviews, talks and tastings.

Tommy Banks, from the Black Swan in Oldstead - recently voted the best restaurant in the world by Trip Advisor, said: “It my first time at the festival and it definitely won’t be my last. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was great to see so many brilliant Yorkshire food producers.”

Michael O’Hare, from Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, added: “It was great to come back to Malton, the reception from the crowd was fantastic. I’ll be back for sure.”

There was also a focus on locally-produced drink brands. Companies including Brass Castle Brewery, Sloemotion and Orchard’s of Husthwaite sponsored the festival bar, which stayed open until 10pm.

New for 2018 was a pop-up picnic area, sponsored by Greenergy.

Children at the festival had plenty to occupy them including face painting, cookie decorating, birds of prey displays, theatre workshops and a vintage funfair with ornate Victorian carousel.

Simon Wrench, from festival sponsor Inntravel, said: “It is our fourth year sponsoring the Malton Food Lovers Festival and we are increasingly humbled year on year to see the effort put in by everyone involved - and of course the festival organisers who make it happen.”

One ‘unique’ visitor this year was the so-called Craven Heifer - a 6ft high, 4ft wide and 11ft long steel sculpture of a cow which weighs in at more than half a tonne. The heifer was in town as part of its region-wide tour to celebrate the 160th Great Yorkshire Show this summer.