THE COUNTRY’S favourite cookery duo were wowed by the size of Bolton Food Festival.

The Hairy Bikers last came to the town’s gastronomic gala in 2011 and were surprised by the growth of the event in the years since.

Dave Myers and Si King were one of a number of talented cooks to demonstrate their work in front of the crowds on Saturday and said they were pleased to be back in Bolton.

“It’s massively different and I think we probably notice it because we’ve not been for some time,” said Dave.

“We couldn’t come back because of work and holiday commitments but the way it’s grown to a footfall of 250,000 people is great.

“Crikey, in today’s world it’s so nice to see something expanding rather than the council and the government telling you to cut it and it’s proven by it’s success.”

The pair also praised the work of cooks at more than 200 stalls who sold a vast range of foods across the weekend. Barrow-born Dave compared the event to the markets in his home time.

He added: “I’m very proud of the Northern Markets and I remember as a kid we would go to the markets and it’s kind of like that but on a massive scale once a year. It’s for ordinary people and you don’t have to pay to get in, you can always pick up something cheap and cheerful to eat and it’s multi-cultural. It does tick a lot of boxes for a blooming good day out.”

Dave’s ever-present partners Si, went on to explain that he enjoys the festival because of the variety of food available.

“The world is becoming more and more homogenised sadly and it’s always important that you have events like this that give character and personality to a place and Bolton does that very well,” he said.

“Also, it’s a place where like minded people can get together that love their food, they can celebrate the produce and the food that’s around the town. What’s not to love?”

The pair also travelled the stalls to search for their favourite meals.

They hope that people visiting the festival and watching their work will pick up some inspiration for their own kitchens.

Si added: “It’s not just about young chefs it’s about everybody because to cook for the people that you love - whether it be privately or your punters in a pub - is a great thing.

“If you can see great product that you want to cook then that’s great and that’s what Bolton’s about it’s about great produce and at the centre of it’s all is the markets here.”