MORE than 15,000 people flocked to a variety of events across the region as part of Forth Valley Food Festival.

The annual food trail and promotional campaign, led by Forth Valley and Lomond Leader, offered nearly 50 opportunities to enjoy the local produce.

A Meet the Goats event at Gartur Stitch Farm was one of the popular activities, held for the second year running.

Locals took the chance to milk the goats, hand-feed the sheep and collect eggs from the roost.

Smallholder Kat Goldin explained the festival proved a boost to business and said: “Once again we’ve been blown away by the popularity of our farm tours.

“It’s always a joy to allow families to experience farm life first-hand, from milking the goats and feeding the sheep to cuddling a calf and collecting eggs.

“We’re passionate about educating the next generation and making our tours accessible, so all under 16s go free.

“We launched our Meet the Goats experience during last year’s festival and it was so popular we started running it all year round.”

The farm also offered a pizza foraging experience to highlight all the free ingredients that grow all over the area.

That theme continued with a wild cocktail making session at Aberfoyle’s Forth Inn.

Rox Madeira of Trossachs Wild Apothecary who led the event said: “We showed how easy it is to use locally foraged ingredients to craft your own wild cocktails using syrups made from hawthorn berries, nettles and rosehip.”

The string of events was also supported by Stirling Council.

Councillor Margaret Brisley, convener of the Finance and Economy Committee, added: “This festival is a superb showcase of our vibrant and thriving food and drink sector, serving up a wide range of activities and tasty treats for families to sample.

“I am thrilled that this second helping has proven so successful and we will continue collaborating with partners to stage exciting events like this to strengthen this important area of Stirling’s economy.”