Food lovers can stock up on their favourite treats while supporting some of the region’s best producers when a popular festival moves online.

Seaham Food Festival was due to take place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June but was cancelled to help slow the spread of coronavirus and reduce the pressure on the NHS.

However, organiser Durham County Council is keen to support the food businesses that had signed up for the event, as it recognises the impact the cancellation of festivals like Seaham will have on independent traders in the region.

Many of the businesses affected have already extended their online activities and have seen demand for deliveries soar.

By creating a special page on the Seaham Food Festival website, bringing together all of the traders and links to the delicious produce on offer, the council hopes to help boost these sales further.

The new online trader directory will also provide the ingredients for people to create their own mini festival at home, with everything from indulgent tray bakes and moreish homemade fudge, to award-winning relishes and locally brewed craft beer on sale. Special deals are being planned for what would have been the event weekend, meaning there is even more reason to stock up.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, at Durham County Council, said: “In the North East we are home to some of the best food producers and businesses in the country and we want to do as much as we can to help them during this difficult time.

“Seaham Food Festival was such a success last year, and although it can’t take place as planned next month, we can still support our local traders and sample some tasty treats at home. It is an ideal time to try out some exciting new recipes so I would encourage people to take a look at the directory and discover all the delicious delicacies that can be delivered to their doorsteps.”

Among those featured in the directory is The Hedgehog Bakery. In April, the Staindrop-based business experienced its busiest month yet, following the launch of its online shop and nationwide treat box deliveries. The team is offering ten per cent off for members of the emergency services and special gift boxes for key workers.

Owner Theo Farquharson said: “Food festivals account for about 70 per cent of our business so we were worried when all of the events got cancelled. However, we have seen a large growth in online sales, and we are incredibly grateful for the support we have received. Seaham Food Festival’s online directory is a great idea and we are delighted to be a part of it.”

David Richardson, of Seaham-based Canny Candy Gadgies, was also disappointed when his hometown festival was cancelled, having sold three days-worth of products in a single day at the inaugural event last year.

However, he has also seen online demand for his fudge, brittles, honeycomb and other handmade sweets rocket.

“We have received so much support from customers old and new over the last few months,” said David.

“Seaham Food Festival’s online directory is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our products to an even greater audience, which is so important in the current climate. I have created a special Seaham Food Festival goodie box to celebrate.”

Darlington-based Calder’s Kitchen is known for its range of award-winning piccalilli and husband and wife team Andrew and Anne-Marie Calder are regulars at food festivals across the region.

The business experienced its best ever month for website sales in April and Andrew and Anne-Marie are planning a number of special offers for Seaham Food Festival weekend.

Andrew said: “We are really grateful for the work Durham County Council’s festival and events team is doing to support the traders. They are really are going the extra mile and it means a great deal to us all.”

To explore the online trader directory, visit www.seahamfoodfestival.co.uk/support-our-traders/

For information about the support on offer to businesses in County Durham during the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.durham.gov.uk/covid19business