More than 8,000 people visited Fermoys Garden Centre in Newton Abbot over the weekend of September 24-25 for the annual Abbfest - which turned out to be Fermoys' most successful event ever.
Abbfest is a local food and beer festival, which brings the whole community together for a weekend of partying while raising money for charity. One of the main attractions this year was local resident, retired politician and Strictly Come Dancing star Ann Widdecombe, who opened the festival on Saturday morning and then joined celebrity chef Michael Caines who was demonstrating in Fermoy's purpose-built travelling kitchen.
"Ann and Michael really hit it off," said Sarah Dumont, business manager and Abbfest organiser. "They were so funny working as a double act, Ann trying to tell Michael what he should be doing whilst Michael was trying to keep control of the kitchen. The audience were in stiches with Ann's dry sense of humour as she chopped and stirred,which regaling the crowds with snippets of gossip from both the House of Commons and of course, Strictly Come Dancing."
Visitors had the opportunity to sample 150 barrels of real ale and produce from 80 local food and craft stalls. The festival has been running at Fermoy's for six years now and is a regular event on the local calendar - this year the garden centre hopes to have raised well over £25,000 to distribute within the community.
"I must be mad, organising such a large event on top of my normal workload in the Garden Centre," said Ms Dumont. "This year I thought it would be a good idea to invite local primary schoolchildren to a healthy living day in the run-up to Abbfest, and more than 400 of them descended on me for a mad day of gardening and cooking workshops. But it paid dividends though - the local BBC News gave us a 10-minute slot on the evening news."