All's sweet ready for Pontefract Liquorice Festival

It is a celebration that has been at the heart of Pontefract's calendar since 1995.

Coun Jacquie Speight preparing for the Pontefract Liquorice Festival.

And the annual Pontefract Liquorice Festival is expected to draw in the crowds for a 22nd year, when it returns on Sunday, July 9.

Sweet lovers can sample a variety of liquorice food and drink in a street market containing 80 food, craft and gift stalls.

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Dances, musicians and street performers will entertain crowds throughout the day whilst other attractions include craft activities, face painting and fairground rides.

Friarwood Valley Gardens will also play host to Birds of Prey, reptiles, singers, donkey rides and a bouncy castle.

New to this year's festival is a family liquorice trail. Visitors can collect a trail map from the market or Pontefract Library and tour the town centre to find stickers of Henry Goode - the face of festival sponsors Tangerine Confectionery – in shop windows.

Completed maps can be handed in at the market to be entered into a prize draw.

Ahead of the event, Coun Jacquie Speight, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, paid a visit Pontefract Museum which has an exhibition celebrating the town’s historic association with the Middle Eastern plant.

She said: “The town has a unique association with liquorice and I am sure the festival will once again be a great day out for all the family.

"I’d encourage everyone to join in the fun and if you get the chance pop into the museum to find out about our sweet history.” '‹

It is thought liquorice may have originally been brought to Pontefract during the Crusades by a member of the De Lacy family who built Pontefract Castle.

Another theory is that it was 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.

The liquorice festival will take place from 10am until 4pm.