FOUR years of planning came off as Foodie Friday made a huge impact in Stalybridge on its first event.
Good weather saw hundreds of people, more than many of the organisers perhaps expected, turn out in Armentieres Square on an encouraging debut.
Two of the area’s MPs, Jonathan Reynolds and Andrew Gwynne, were in attendance as stalls selling Indian and Malaysian food, pizza, paella and pancakes and ice cream, as well as beer, were packed.
The turnout on Friday, July 23 was so good, organisers will look at tweaking further events, which are scheduled to run every month until December at least.
This includes for the next one on Friday, August 13 closing off Armentieres Square earlier so street food traders can be placed in the road itself, giving much more space for any queues, for people to relax and to manoeuvre, especially for disabled access and pushchairs.
There will be more stalls with extra staff to cope with demand and after many businesses reported selling out, there will be far better provision for drinks, with an extended main bar and an additional one, as well as hot and soft drinks.
The seating area will also be on both sides of the canal and additional bins and toilets will be provided.
One of the people behind Foodie Friday, Cllr Eleanor Wills, revealed the inspiration was her husband David.
She told The Correspondent: “It was an amazing experience to see so many people come out to support Stalybridge and this great event in the town.
“Stalybridge is a beautiful town with lots to offer and somebody said to me once, ‘It’s punching beneath its weight.’ This was an example of us punching at our weight.
“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to show how important and integral it is for Stalybridge to have this offer on our doorstep.
“The prospects of it are really big. It’s something we can grow, definitely.”
It was not just about food as Tom Lannon sang and kids heartily joined in drumming sessions – but just seeing an idea spawned in 2017 came off was satisfying.
Cllr Wills added: “I’d say it was my idea, my husband will say it’s his. My husband worked in Altrincham and I saw the food market there.
“It was actually one of the first conversations I had with Cllr Brenda Warrington when she came is as Tameside Council leader.
“I took her to see Altrincham food market and said, ‘Stalybridge is where it’s at.’ So to see it four years later is amazing.”