Anyone arriving in Abergavenny early on Saturday might have remarked how quiet it was for a weekend, but all this had changed by lunchtime.

Following an uncustomary slow start the 2021 Abergavenny Food Festival had burst into life by mid-morning and with the weather remaining onside, crowds came to town from near and far in celebration of one of the UK’s most anticipated gastronomic events.

With exhibitors confined to specific venues throughout the town, the streets wore familiar face but an increase in footfall as the day progressed saw evidence of the pulling power of the event even in the grip of the pandemic.

Although social distancing was a challenge, the outside events appeared well marshalled and good natured. Stroller ticket holders saw cookery demonstrations in the Market Hall, talks and debate in the Dome and cooking with fire in the grounds of the Castle. There were also hands-on children’s workshops and extensive exhibitor markets and catering stalls.

Local visitors welcomed the return of the event, Naomi Edwards of Mardy was venturing into town during the Festival for the first time and stated, ‘‘I’ve been put off by the crowds before but this is a good day out, I was bought the tickets by my sister and have to admit it’s a great atmosphere.’’

Lewis Cowan of Blaenavon was also attending his first event and said: ‘‘To be honest, it seems a bit top heavy with alcohol stalls - not that I don’t enjoy a drink, but I would have thought local food producers would have been more of a priority, good day out though.’’

Both Saturday and Sunday stroller tickets were sold out well before the weekend began and despite advanced publicity stating they were only available online some people still turned up hoping to buy a ticket on the day.

The Festival’s chief executive Kim Waters told the Chronicle: ‘‘We’re really pleased, it was a very good event. There were a lot of angles we had to adhere to on the fly, the Covid numbers were high but the limits we put on the ticket sales proved to be viable.

‘‘It wasn’t the crush and the scrum that it can be.

‘‘All the stallholders we have spoken to so far have been utterly thrilled with the weekend.

‘‘It helped with there not being crowds around their stalls because they love to talk about their products and engage with people. Some of them reported their best ever weekend.

‘‘There were challenges with some people pulling out at the last minute some due to Covid and others with supply problems, but on balance we’re really happy with how it all went.

‘‘The team that made this happen were brilliant considering the environment we have been working under. I met at least 40 people in the flesh for the first time over the weekend that I have been working closely with for a year.’’