ALMOST 1,000 people attended Northumberland’s first Firewood Fire.
Organisers and visitors alike have hailed the event at Meldon Park earlier this month a huge success and an auction of firewood saw 200 lots sold from 22 local suppliers.
The auction was conducted by Tom Oates of George F White, the main sponsor of the fair, and attracted enthusiastic buying throughout.
Visitors also took the chance to seek first-hand advice from trade exhibitors on everything from wood burning stoves to wood cutting equipment.
They could also book a slot to cut their own Christmas tree at the estate, and the Dyke Neuk pub offered a hog roast and beer.
The fair was organised by the region’s woodland initiative Northwoods, which offers training and support to people working in the wood industry.
Director Ben Tansey, who was inspired to organise the fair by a similar event in Lincolnshire, was delighted with its success.
And he is already looking forward to making it an annual fixture.
He said: “We couldn’t have asked for more. The first event of its kind in the North of England, the Northumberland Firewood Fair, saw 200 lots of firewood sold from 22 local suppliers and nearly 1,000 people at the show.
“The day was a huge success. With a wide range of firewood products up for sale, buyers were able to take home anything from a few net bags of wood to seasoned, kiln dried or freshly felled timber.
“Buyers, sellers and trade stands were all asking about next year — we’re looking forward to it already.”
He added: “We were delighted to have the support of both the timber and forestry industries and the general public.
“The industry profile has been raised and it gave these businesses the chance to meet their customers on a face to face basis.
“We hope that the Firewood Fair will now become firmly established in the North East’s autumn calendar.”
The county’s timber industry employs 1,500 people and contributes more than £40,000 to the local economy.
The fair was funded by the Northumberland Uplands Leader Local Action Group as part of a wider woodfuel support project.
Group Co-ordinator Tom Burston said: “Northumberland Uplands Leader Local Action Group was delighted to support this new event in Northumberland.
“Efforts to support small businesses in this sector are really important.
“We hope this initiative will stimulate more demand for locally-grown sustainable wood fuel.
“Leader is there to encourage innovative ideas that benefit rural Northumberland.”
A meeting will be held at the Dyke Neuk pub in Meldon this evening to discuss plans for future fairs.
Anyone who would be interested in helping to organise them is welcome to attend the session, which begins at 7pm.
l A Herald competition for two lucky readers to win a large dumpy bag of firewood each was won by Clare Mills, of Alnwick, and Carol Smith, of Jesmond.