THOUSANDS of food lovers descended on Llangollen for the town’s spectacular annual food and drink festival.

Hamper Llangollen 2011 is in its 14th year and over the weekend more than 8,000 visitors from across the UK and beyond savoured the delicious fayre on offer from more than 110 exhibitors.

Especially popular were the demonstrations by star chefs Graham Tinsley, star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and executive chef of The Castle Hotel in Conwy, and S4C’s Dudley Newbery who ran recipe masterclasses on both days.

Other fascinating presentations came from Pablo Moreno of Sabor del Sol about olives and the health benefits of olive oil, Brian Horwich from Pant Glas Bach Preserves on jam making, and Glyn Smith, head gardener from Erddig, talking about the many different variety of apples.

The Real Ale trail, new this year, also helped link the town to the main event at Llangollen Pavilion. Pubs and hostelries were busy on both days. Wales Air Ambulance did a fly-by and Llangollen Silver Band played at the Pavilion entrance.

Good weather helped bring people in their thousands and several traders in the town reported brisk business throughout the weekend.

Colin Loughlin, chairman of the festival’s organising committee, said Hamper Llangollen 2011 had been a terrific success. An exhibitor from Megan’s Kitchen himself, he believed the closer involvement of exhibitors had been a positive factor.

“The support from exhibitors, visitors and everyone involved has been fantastic throughout and the event has gone really well. We’re really pleased with the numbers.

“I think it’s helped that we’ve put an exhibitors’ point of view into the organisation and we’ve done the best we can to keep duplication down to a minimum. The feedback on the whole has been very good.”

Tim Roberts, owner of Su Casa from Oswestry, said they would be back again next year. “It’s really good to see that despite the result of the rugby yesterday, people are out in their droves.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and the way they rejigged the layout this year has worked really well. I think everyone involved has done a really good job.”

Hamper Llangollen 2011 is the focus of this week’s S4C programme Digwyddiadau ‘11, to be screened on Friday October 21 at 9pm.