In its seventeenth year, the Pontefract Liquorice Festival took place today to celebrate this unusual plant, the many wonderful products created from it and its historic association with the town.
Planned as a great family day out, the day will showcase professional and local talent from around the district, whilst a host of street entertainers delight the crowds with magic and circus skills.
There will be lots of liquorice food and drink to sample and for those that like history and heritage, fascinating talks on the history of liquorice. A range of food, craft and gift stalls will offer quality products from around the region.
Pontefract museum and Pontefract library will host a variety of activities for children and young people throughout the day ensuring that this unique festival has something to offer for every member of the family.
Pontefract is rightly proud to celebrate its association with this famous plant from the Middle East. It may have been brought to Pontefract from the Crusades by a member of the De Lacy family who built Pontefract Castle or perhaps by the Benedictine monks that came to the town in 1090.
However it arrived, its initial importance was as a medicine whose benefits had been known for thousands of years. It is only in the last few hundred years that it was turned into a sweet and it was the famous Pomfet (Pontefract Cake ) or Yorkshire Penny that marked the cross over from medicine to sweet.
By 1885, there were 10 companies producing liquorice sweets in Pontefract. The most famous of these: Wilkinsons – is today part of Tangerine Confectionery, and still producing millions of Pontefract Cakes, each stamped with a seal representing the history and legend of Pontefract.
Liquorice in every colour