This weekend sees the return of the Taste Cumbria food festival to the streets of Cockermouth. First held in 2010 in response to flooding in the area, this is the flagship event for the Taste Cumbria team, bringing around 40,000 visitors to this small town on the fringe of the western Lake District.

There’s plenty to see and do at this fabulous event, and we have picked out some of the highlights. With so many visitors the car parks are expected to be packed, but thankfully there is a park and ride service in operation costing £5 per day, with parking at the Mitchells Auction Livestock Centre and a bus service taking you straight into the town centre.

1. Go Plastic Free with Goodness & Grain

Farfalle Pasta

This year one issue has persistently dominated the headlines: Our over-reliance on plastic and the damage it is causing to the oceans. Thankfully, businesses are starting to take note, and that includes local business Goodness & Grain. This company, run by two local Mums, sells food at local markets without the plastic packaging. Buyers are encouraged to bring their own refillable containers and can purchase a range of dried foods, such as pasta, rice, cereals, and spices. Most of the produce is organic.

The business also supplies a range of biodegradable cleaning and health products, such as bamboo toothbrushes. They will be setting up a stall in Wordsworth House on the Sunday, so don’t forget to bring your empty Kilner jars to stock up plastic free!

2. Cockermouth Round Table Duck Race

Rubber Ducks in Lake

The Cockermouth Round Table’s annual Duck Race once more coincides with the Cockermouth Food Festival, ensuring that many more people can get involved in this fun, fundraising event. 2000 numbered bath ducks are released into the River Cocker from the Greenway bridge and they will race along the river to the footbridge. They will then be caught in nets and the winning duck will be announced.

You can buy a ticket for a numbered duck for just £1 from several shops in the town, include VeeVa, RTSN Huddart Supplies (the pet shop), and the Cockermouth Paper Shop. The money raised goes to support local causes.

3. Jennings Brewery Beer Festival

Beer & ale glasses

All good food needs a good pint of beer to wash it down, which is why the Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth is hosting a beer festival alongside the food festival. It also happens to be National Cask Ale week, so there’s even more reason to celebrate! The brewery will be stocking a selection of around 40 beers from various local breweries to try, and they are offering half price tours at selected times.

4. The Secret Gin Station

Gin & tonics garnished with rosemary

If beer isn’t your thing then don’t worry, the festival is also hosting a secret gin station in collaboration with The Tipsy Filly mobile bar. Located behind Koppers bar on Main Street, Helen from the Tipsy Filly will be conjuring some delicious gin cocktails. This is a ticketed event and tickets include a gin fizz, three cocktails, and recipe cards to take home. You can purchase those here.

5. Chef Demonstrations

Chef Garnishing Plate

A number of top local chefs will be attending the food festival this year and giving free demonstrations throughout the two days in the festival’s demonstration marquee. This includes James Whitesmith of the Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck, who previously worked for Gordan Ramsey at the Hilton in Dubai, as well as chefs from award winning restaurants the Cottage in the Wood and Rothay Manor.

Chefs from some of Cockermouth’s most popular restaurants and cafés will also be giving demos, providing top tips on how to cook the perfect loaf of bread and more.

6. Fun Activities to Keep the Children Occupied

Kids Cooking

Over in the Hub just off Market Street, local party entertainers Rainbow Jelly will be providing a host of craft and other activities to keep your children amused. New for this year will be the inclusion of the Sellafield Roadshow who will be doing a series of fun experiments that will enthral the whole family.

7. 80 Producer’s Stalls on Main Street

Cakes at the Taste Cockermouth Food Festival

Cakes at the Taste Cockermouth Food Festival

Finally, the best reason to come to the Taste Cumbria Cockermouth Food Festival has to be the opportunity to browse wares from so many local producers. With 80 stalls lined up on Main Street there is sure to be something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Expect to find freshly baked artisan breads, delicious cakes, creamy locally made cheeses, and the original and best Cartmel Sticky Toffee pudding. There will be free samples galore and it’s a fabulous opportunity to pick up some early Christmas presents.