THOUSANDS OF visitors to Pontefract’s annual celebration of liquorice had all sorts of fun today.
It is the 19th year the town has held it Liquorice Festival, which celebrates Pontefract’s historic association with the Middle Eastern plant.
It is thought it may have originally been brought to the town during the Crusades by a member of the De Lacy family, who built Pontefract Castle, but another theory has it brought by Benedictine monks in 1090.
First used for medicinal purposes, it became the favourite of many a sweet lover when the famous Pomfret (Pontefract) cakes were produced.
Liquorice of all shapes, sizes and colours was on sale at more of the 80 market stalls that took over the town centre, as street entertainers including Lucy Liquorice kept families entertained.
Coun Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s assistant cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, who opened the festival, said its was an “absolutely fabulous” day.
She said: “There were thousands of people filling the streets, and despite our initial worries, the sun was out and shining.
“The festival was a fun-filled way of celebrating the town’s historic links with liquorice and it was great to see families out enjoying themselves.
“But the highlight for me was the market, with so many traders and stall holders the atmosphere was buzzing - an of course, liquorice in every size and colour you could imagine.”
The festival also included family workshops on puppet making, sand art and liquorice jewellery making, and talks by local historian Tom Dixon on the history of liquorice.
Children enjoyed afternoon tea with the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland on a stage by the Town Hall and stilt walkers made their way through the crowds.
Pontefract Museum also showed displays on the history of sweet-making in the town..