RAIN failed to dampen the spirits of the crowds who flocked to Burnham for the annual Food and Drink Festival.

About 6,000 foodies from as far afield as Edinburgh, Cardiff, Plymouth and London descended on the town, wielding umbrellas and ready to taste the finest South-West produce from the best chefs and food producers in the region.

Festival organiser Beverley Milner Simonds said: “Showing the town in a positive light to visitors from further afield can only be good for repeat visitors, increasing spending and creating positive advocates.”

More than 80 stalls packed Victoria Street, College Street and Princess Street on Saturday, as well as indoor markets at Burnham's Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, Princess Theatre and Somerset Skills and Learning Centre.

Co-organiser Sarah Milner said: “Feedback from the stall holders was great. Many commented that the crowds didn't ease all day - some said that the festival could have been sponsored by Millets there were so many waterproof jackets about.”

“This year we closed an extra road, invited more stall holders and extended the street markets much further. We added in some buskers and we also had the UK Chilli Cook Off Association competition with visitors voting for the people's choice and a panel of experts picking the Hickory Pig team to progress to the UK finals at the Upton Cheyney Chilli and Cider Festival.

“Visitors definitely liked having more room in the indoor venues and having the Brew Off back on the stage in the Princess Theatre made that a lot easier to judge too. The chairs that the town council lent us did increase the time people spent there and the live music created a great atmosphere.

“The main difference was the expanded space. Having the larger street markets, more space in the indoor venues meant we haven't had any negative feedback yet. We are always looking for ideas and suggestions though.”

Andrea Baylis came from Coventry to see the festival. She said: “We had a great time at the food festival. We travelled from Coventry with three children who had their first experience of making bread and took part in a chilli-off. Even the rain didn't dampen the day. Roll on October we will see you then.”

The chilli eating competition will be back and there will be more live music on October 25. For more information on future events, visit www.burnhamonseafoodfestival.org