HUNDREDS of people were forced to wait in the freezing cold as Accrington Food Festival became a victim of its own success.
The 11th annual event was held at Accrington Town Hall last Saturday and Sunday and attracted a staggering 4,000 people.
The main attraction was TV’s Hairy Bikers – culinary duo David Myers and Simon King, who opened the festival.
But the event was marred after a number of disgruntled visitors complained about the long queues to get in.
Visitor Mark Bradford, who travelled from Leyland with his daughter to catch a glimpse of the Hairy Bikers, told the Observer: "We were immediately met by the sight of a very large queue.
"We waited patiently in the freezing cold, with my wife and daughter shivering, for two hours before giving up and going home.
"To say the organisation was poor would be kind.
"News began to filter through that there were too many people in the building and it was a health and safety issue.
"Eventually a man came round and told us we would not get in and could we come back tomorrow.
"People will have travelled from all parts of the region to be there and they left disgusted and dejected at the lack of information and abysmal organisation."
Peter Baron, acting chief executive of organiser Hyndburn Leisure Trust, defended the event.
He said: "The Hairy Bikers couldn’t do enough. They were happy to pose for photographs and chat, which caused people to stay around a little longer than expected.
"Unfortunately, with success comes unhappy customers.
"We were extremely busy on Saturday morning.
"The attraction of the Hairy Bikers had encouraged more people to come along than we would normally expect.
"It got to the point where we had to put a stop to more people coming inside until others left, for health and safety reasons.
"My staff went out to explain that to people in the queue, but I do realise that it was bitterly cold. I sympathise with people, but there was nothing we could do about it.
"The festival was a victim of its own success."
Questionnaires were available on the day and Mr Baron said comments and suggestions would be taken into account when organising next year’s event.
Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe, who attended the festival on Saturday, said: "This is an event that we at the council have been supportive of for a few years now and it continues to go from strength to strength.
"It’s now a major event in the Accrington town centre calendar."