IF the proof of the pudding is in the eating, Tameside Council has clearly come up with a recipe for success with Stalybridge Street Feast.
In fact the trial run of monthly continental-style street markets, which started in July, proved so popular that the authority is now reflecting on the programme with a view to bringing it back in the spring as a permanent feature.
Each of the events was attended by increasing numbers of people, all keen to enjoy an ever-widening array of delicious food and drink designed to appeal to all tastes. Treats on offer ranged from pizza and paella to ice cream, pancakes and Indian and Malaysian dishes, as well as beer and wine.
Adding to the attraction, making it a true family affair, were children's crafts and regular entertainment which included choirs, musicians like Tom Lannon Acoustic Soul, bands and even the Plague Doctors with their flame-breathing monsters Bessemer the Dragon and Toni the Fire Bat.
The interest proved so great that town-centre shops and businesses stayed open into the evening to benefit from a welcome increase in trade. Visitors who poured into Stalybridge were eager to sample everything the town had to offer.
Project-lead Cllr Eleanor Wills, who came up with the idea of monthly food event in Stalybridge, commented: "I always expected Street Feast to be a success but I was staggered by just how popular it proved to be. The crowds just carried on coming.
"I felt there was an appetite for a quality food event on this side of Manchester and we definitely satisfied it with Street Feast. People couldn't get enough of the dishes and drinks.
"It's my belief that the location had a lot to do with the success too. Armentieres Square, on the banks of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and in the heart of historic Stalybridge, is the perfect location for a relaxed family evening."
Street Feast, which was run by Tameside Council's markets service in partnership with prestigious artisan market organisers The Market Co, has now concluded its pilot run. January and February are traditionally the close-season for such events because of the poor weather and to allow stall-holders to take a break in the sun.
Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council's executive member with responsibility for markets, said: "Street Feast has been a remarkable success and I would like to thank all the people who worked hard to make it so popular and put Stalybridge on Greater Manchester's food and drink map.
"The break in January and February presents us with the perfect opportunity to take stock of what's happened and consider how we can take the event forward. The crowds alone tell us that people enjoyed it and would like it to continue."