THOUSANDS of households will be eating healthily this week after a successful Skipton food and drink festival.

From locally farmed beef to pies made from pheasant and game, from honey to wild seeds, and from organic vegetables to specially flavoured olive oil, it was a gourmet's delight.

Held in the glorious surroundings of Skipton Castle, the festival was considered such a resounding success that the same venue has already been booked for next year.

Three-and-a-half thousand people visited the event, many of whom took the opportunity to take a look around the ancient castle grounds.

Feast, the Embsay-based company which organised the event, grew out of an initiative funded by the district council, Rural Business Networking and the Government Office for Yorkshire and Humber.

Its creation followed a similar food and drink festival at Skipton Auction Mart last year which had been organised by the county council.

After the county council relinquished its role this year, Rebecca Roberts and friend Sally Scantlebury joined forces to create Feast.

Their quest is to promote local produce and bring the consumer closer to the producer.

Mrs Roberts said of the castle event: "It was very, very successful. So much so that we have already decided, with permission from Sebastian Fattorini, to hold another at the castle next year.

"Everyone seemed to enjoy the setting and the range of products on offer. The only complaint I received was that there were too few vegetable stalls. Sadly this was beyond anyone's control as one of the exhibitors had to pull out because of a bereavement."

Mrs Roberts said the food demonstrations were particularly popular with a large screen erected for anyone not able to see the demos first hand.

She praised chef James Martin's efforts in promoting local produce. His demonstrations centred around creating dishes with produce bought solely from the event.

Mrs Roberts added that Feast was looking at introducing reduced price tickets next year to reward regular farmers' market shoppers who attended the event and wanted to buy produce from the stallholders.