THE North West’s “biggest” hospitality trade fair took place this week – with nearly 90 exhibitors.

Now in its 39th year, the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show at Grasmere offers businesses the opportunity to showcase their products and services to local hoteliers.

Show director Colin Monk said: “It’s a one-stop shop with all the things you need to start and run a business, including banks, insurance, carpets, furniture, cleaning, food, drink, IT, marketing and renewable energy.

“It’s 25 per cent bigger than last year’s show where we had 1,000 visitors, and this year we’re hoping for about 1,500.”

He also said that the fair, which was held at the Daffodil Hotel and made half a million pounds last year, had a waiting list of around 30 businesses.

Some of the local exhibitors included Hawkshead Brewery, Lakeland Vintners, Farrer’s, Sedbergh’s JMP Services, Lakes Biomass, Duncan Renewables and Nature Lakeland.

Hawkshead Brewery and Lakeland Vintners launched a new keg version of the Lakeland Gold beer, which they hoped would interest local smaller businesses.

Anne Jones, Hawkshead Brewery Sales Manager, said: “I’ve been doing this show for about five years and we’ve picked up new customers every year.”

Duncan Renewables were promoting their move to Furness to join forces with Ulverston-based wood fuel supply company Lakes Biomass. Stuart Duncan of the firm said: “Using oil costs £10,000 a year, but a biomass boiler using pellets will cost £6,500.”

Nature Lakeland was also promoting a green message. Fundraising Development Officer Ruth Kirk said: “We’re here to promote responsible, sustainable tourism, like getting people out of their cars.”

There was also the biggest collection of electric cars in the North West on display and people attending could take a test drive.

Granville Boothroyd, who co-owns guest house Millers Beck in Kendal, said 50 per cent of its business comes via online booking sites.

“We came for the first time last year and picked up one or two contacts,” he said. “It’s good to try and keep up, as you can’t afford to fall behind.”

Run by the Lakes Hospitality Association, the fair had workshops and seminars covering subject from law to interior design.

Tony Blaney, chairman of the Lakes Hospitality Association, said: “Traditionally, promoting tourism business was the responsibility of local authorities, but they’re losing money and in reality tourism is not their priority.

“This means the community will have to generate the money themselves and up their game.”

The busy show created a parking shortage in the surrounding areas. An event spokesman said: “We were victims of our own success, and victims of the weather.

“There’s limited parking at the venue but we made provisions and rented two car parks, which both got increasingly water logged.”