A POPULAR festival in Romsey attracting thousands of foodies has been cancelled amid coronavirus fears, it has been revealed.

Organisers from the Romsey Food Festival announced on Sunday they were forced to call of the event due to take place on Sunday, September 6.

Now community leaders have expressed their disappointment at the festival being cancelled, stressing their concern for businesses that have already been hit by the pandemic.

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Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, said: "It is a huge disappointment as the festival is one of the highlights of the year in Romsey and one of the most popular events run in the town centre.

"However, it is fully understandable in these circumstances because you just cannot run it as a socially distanced event, as people would be packed in The Hundred and Latimer Street."

Romsey Advertiser: Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley

Cllr Nick Adams-King, who represents Blackwater on the borough council, said: "It is so sad to see another of the events that mark the year in Romsey has been cancelled.

"Once again, in these circumstances, it is the right decision, but no doubt an extraordinarily difficult and distressing one for the organisers to make, particularly as many are business owners in the town who will already be suffering due to the lockdown."

He added he hopes next year's festival will be "bigger and better", stressing Romsey Future and Test Valley Borough Council will continue to "offer support" for the event.

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Nick Adams-KingCllr Nick Adams-King

Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: "I would have been very surprised if it went ahead, especially as everything else like the Romsey Show has been cancelled.

"It is one of the most successful things we do in Romsey and we get a lot of support from not only people who come and visit, but from businesses who participate in it.

"It is a big event for the economy and the businesses make a lot of money from it, but I am sure they understand because as things go on you cannot know what will happen in September."

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An organiser from the festival said: "Unfortunately we’ve taken the decision to cancel the event this year.

"We held on for as long as possible because September is quite a way off", adding they would be back in September 2021.

Last year, the town centre was bustling with over 6,000 food lovers of all ages who came to sample dishes from 70 different stalls full of Hampshire Fare.

The event was aimed at families and residents who were also able to sample produce at Hampshire Farmers’ Market in Alma Road.