LAST-minute preparations are being made for this year’s Christchurch Food and Wine Festival.

The foodie extravaganza, which takes place this weekend, will see more than 100 stalls set-up in the town centre crammed with tasty treats and delicious drinks for hungry visitors.

With music from Swing Unlimited Big Band on Saturday morning, following the official opening at 10am with patron Lesley Waters and Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr John Lofts, the event looks set to attract bumper crowds once more.

The market will be open from 10am to 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday, with offerings including olives, fine oils, locally grown asparagus, bread, sausages and cheeses.

The Italian market will be based in cobbled Church Street and the Artisan market will be held in Natwest car park.

Druitt Gardens will be used as a picnic area with activities for children.

Demonstrations from local chefs will be held in the marquee in the Regent Centre car park with appearances from Lesley Waters and Cyrus Todiwala as well as local chefs.

Youngsters can try their hand at cooking in the Kids’ Kitchen at the Priory School in Wick Lane, with fun workshops taking place on both days.

The Kochen Clan pipe band from twin town Aalen will be playing at various locations in the town for five to 10 minutes at a time as well.

On Sunday the Kings Arms hotel in Castle Street will be hosting the Great Christchurch Bake Off and a family fun day on the bowling green and pavilion.

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CHRISTCHURCH council will continue its support of the major event this year by acting as a sponsor.

After last year’s event the council were forced to ‘re-examine’ their support due to reduced central government funding. It is now providing cash sponsorship of the demonstration marquee.

Cllr Claire Bath, portfolio holder for economy at Christchurch council, said: “We no longer have the resources available within the council to provide the administrative support we have been able to in the past. However this is an event which deserves our support. We will be providing funds which will ensure that the festival carries on as successfully as before.”

Vicki Hallam, chairman of the Food Festival committee, added: “We’re grateful to the council for its continued support.”