LIQUORICE lovers flocked in their thousands to Pontefract’s annual sweet-themed festival.
The sun shone down on revellers stockpiling ‘allsorts’ of sweets as the event transformed the town centre into a candy haven on Sunday.
Fans of the sticky black sweet came from far and wide to enjoy Wakefield Council’s 17th liquorice festival, with around 36,500 people joining in the fun.
Brian Hume, of Cavendish Avenue, Pontefract, was there with his wife Mel and their children, Ella, seven and Ethan, two.
He said: “It’s really good, we only found out last minute but we’ve come more or less every year. I’m quite surprised with the turnout, we’ve seen lots of people giving liquorice out.”
Reveller Sue East decided to hop on a bus from Lincolnshire with friends after attending the council’s annual rhubarb festival in Wakefield earlier in the year.
She said: “We decided to do something crazy. It’s not raining, but we expected there to be more liquorice. It’s very good though – we’ve run away and we’re enjoying it.”
The event kicked off with a colourful balloon release over Buttercross at noon by the council’s cabinet member for culture, Coun Dave Dagger, and Pontefract councillors Celia Loughran and Paula Sherriff.
Some of the festival’s famous characters bought their own special brand of medieval mayhem to entertain children, including pantomime dame Lady Liquorice, who showed children how to make sweet-laden bracelets.
Little Amy Edmondson, five, showed off her bejewelled creation with pride and said the best part of the day was “eating liquorice.”
More than 50 food and drink stalls lined Market Place while street theatre, arts and crafts and creatures on stilts entertained throngs of giggling youngsters.
Event sponsors Tangerine Confectionery, which has a factory at Ferrybridge Road, reeled in sweet connoisseurs by giving out free samples of the town’s most famous export.
Lisa Sullivan, brand manager for the company, said: “We sold out of Pontefract cakes in the first 90 minutes and we bought double the stock of last year.”
Pontefract Liquorice Festival is believed to be the only event in the world to celebrate the unusual plant, which was allegedly bought to the town during the Crusades by a member of the De Lacy family – who built Pontefract Castle – or by Benedictine monks who came to town in 1090.
Coun Dagger said: “The continued success of the festival is fantastic for district. The event brings the whole community together and the fact that we even get visitors travelling from other areas is a clear sign of how popular this unique festival is.”