FOODIES from across the county gathered to celebrate and sample quality Cumbrian produce over the Easter weekend.

The Taste Cumbria festival in Kirkby Lonsdale featured bespoke beer, free demonstrations and more than 40 produce filled stalls.

For Stephen Hall, of Bakes and Balls in Sedbergh, the festival was a chance to launch his new business.

A teacher for 25 years, he decided he wanted a new challenge so decided to set up a healthy food company at Christmas.

"I started to make healthy bakes at home because my son doesn’t respond well to sugar, and then I started thinking about energy balls too," he said.

“I decided to launch them at Taste Cumbria because I knew I couldn’t just keep on mixing! I was spending a lot of time coming up with recipes and decided I needed a deadline to work to.

"The feedback has been amazing. People are talking and tasting and wanting to know about the ingredients. It’s been a great decision, it’s a brilliant weekend."

Taste Cumbria already takes place in Cockermouth and Ulverston but it was the first time it had set up camp in Kirkby Lonsdale.

The festival attracted a wealth of local support including Booths, Hipping Hall, the country house hotel and restaurant at nearby Cowan Bridge, Mill House Cottages, which offers self catering accommodation, and Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery.

The beer festival in The Royal Barn was packed with people trying a range of different beers, including the Taste Cumbria Easter Brew which was made with a special added ingredient from Kennedys Fine Chocolates of Orton.

David Farraday, of Farraday’s Tasty, only launched his business 18 months ago but his chutneys and relishes are already sold in Dubai, Qatar and Singapore. He travelled down from Bowness to take a stand in the producers’ market.

He said: "This is my second Taste Cumbria festival – I went to the Christmas market in Cockermouth too. It’s a great way to get the brand known here.

"It’s good to be here. These producers have real quality stuff."

The next Taste Cumbria events will take place on May 27-28 in Ulverston, Whitehaven on July 22-23 and Cockermouth from September 22-24.