THE finest hotel and catering firms have gathered at the Winter Gardens for the Lancashire Hotel, Catering and Hospitality Show.
And business owners from across the Fylde coast have welcomed the two-day exhibition, staged by Bispham-based Consortium of Events and Tourism, as a much-needed boost for Blackpool.
Former Miss Blackpool Karen-Jean Cookson attended to promote her Angels Elite Model Agency and the Miss Blackpool Competition.
She said: “A lot of people don’t know that you can buy tickets to the Miss Blackpool final so we thought we’d take a stand.
“It’s one of the oldest, most prestigious and fun competitions going – what better to help promote Blackpool.”
More than 150 exhibitors took 177 stands at the event, which filled the Winter Gardens’ lobby, Horseshoe Pavilion and Olympia.
Tim Dixon of the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board added: “How important is this show for the Fylde coast? Very.
“We’re here to see what we can do to help them and find out what they need for us.
“We’re very happy to support tourism businesses in Blackpool.”
The two-day event – which finishes today – also includes the Young Student Chef of the Year Competition, competed for by eight Lancashire colleges.
Chief judge Nigel Smith of The Villa in Wrea Green said: “We are expecting good things from some very talented students.
“They have 90 minutes to produce a dish with locally-sourced produce and we are looking for clean lines, taste, balance and cost control – everything really.”
Mr Smith was joined by fellow top chefs Paul Rowley from the Lindum Hotel in St Annes and Paul Moss from Twelve in Thornton to judge the heat and final winners. More than 5,000 tickets were given out for the event.
Exhibitor Steve Anderson from Mono Design Solutions said: “We’re hoping the exhibition will help put us on the map – it’s a huge show.”
Exhibitors included hotels, media companies, furniture, kitchen equipment and food and drink suppliers, and a variety of service providers.
Tracy Broomhead of Fleetwood’s Port Catering took a stand and provided all of the equipment for the Masterchef-style student chef competition.
She said: “The show has provided us with a big platform to show people exactly who we are, and exactly what we can do for the people of Lancashire.
“I think the show is brilliant for the area.”
Visitors were able to see the newly-refurbished Floral Hall in the Winter Gardens.