THOUSANDS of people will flock to Bolton town centre this weekend to watch one of the country’s biggest strongman - and strongwoman - events.

Bolton’s Strength and Fitness Festival is this year returning to Victoria Square, Bolton, as a two-day family fun extravaganza, which will include a strongwoman event to run alongside the popular strongman competition for the first time.

A seven-tonne army vehicle will be among the eye-watering weights entrants will be trying to push and lift.

The event is returning for its fourth year and will include about 40 competitors.

Andy Seddon, director of Angry Anvils Ltd, the company spearheading the event, said: “We don’t care who comes first and last — it’s about having the courage to stand in front of a crowd of that size and give it everything after training for the best part of a year.

“I always most look forward to the atmosphere and seeing the smiles on people’s faces. The event appeals to everybody — we want to motivate and inspire people to follow their dreams.

“We hope it will inspire people to stop sitting on their couch and prevent younger ones who might get into bother from doing so, anybody can do this.”

Bolton resident Mr Seddon is again dedicating the event to Jim Halliday, one of the town’s heroes, who secured a bronze medal in weightlifting in the 1948 London Olympic Games at the age of 30 — despite years earlier weighing just six stones when he was a prisoner of war.

Competitor Joanna Montgomery, director of Little Riot Ltd, an interaction design company, is competing despite being only 5ft 1in.

The 26-year-old, from Newcastle, said: “I am not holding my breath to win as it is an open weight category but I am doing it for the experience.

“I have never been in front of a crowd before. I have competed in one event before. I started weightlifting because I really liked body pump classes, but I got to the point where I couldn’t lift any more weights on to myself.”

She said her best achievement is being able to lift 110kg while doing a back squat — double her body weight.

The weekend will also see performances from Bolton Majorettes and singer Dharma Anders.

The Army will be bringing down trucks and artillery guns and people will be able to admire the Keating TKR sports car — one of the world’s fastest cars.

Competitors and spectators will be travelling from across the UK to the festival.

Sponsors Keating Supercars, USN: bodybuilding and protein supplements and Cole Security have helped stage the festival. Entertainment will start at 9.30am and go on until 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.