A POPULAR food festival that celebrates watercress is to return after two years with celebrity chefs, live cooking demonstrations and the World Watercress Eating Championship.

The Alresford Watercress Festival, which is a not-for-profit enterprise, is due to return on Sunday, May 15 with a packed schedule including celebrity chefs such as TV’s Lesley Waters and MasterChef’s Shelina Permaloo, who will show the public how to get creative with watercress.

READ MORE: Alresford Watercress Festival to return on May 15

Lesley is well known for her regular television appearances on Ready Steady Cook, Great Food Live and This Morning. Lesley has also run her own cookery school in Dorset for the last 15 years, become a published cookbook author and enjoyed her role as ambassador for Teflon.

Hampshire Chronicle: Lesley WatersLesley Waters

Shelina is a successful cookbook author and after winning Masterchef in 2012, she’s been gracing our screens on This Morning. Since her first place win, she opened her first restaurant in April 2016 - the hugely popular Lakaz Maman in Bedford Place, Southampton.

A spokesperson for the festival said: "Like previous festivals all the classic elements will be there; the dispensing of the freshly harvested watercress to the crowd, more than 140 stalls groaning with local food and crafts, musical performances and entertainment for the kids.

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"You also can’t forget the World Watercress Eating Championships where Glenn Walsh will fight to retain his crown for the 14th consecutive year!"

The day starts at 10.30am with music from Alresford Ukulele Jam and finishes with the World Watercress Eating Championships at 3.30pm.

There will also be a host of children's entertainment such as circus workshops, puppet shows and birds of prey displays throughout the day.

There is a competition in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee called ‘create a dish fit for the Queen.’

Hampshire Chronicle: Can you create a dish fit for a picnic with the Queen? Can you create a dish fit for a picnic with the Queen?

This competition will allow one person to win a YETI Roadie worth £200, filled with freshly harvested watercress and a hamper of fresh produce, while second and third places will win Hampshire Farmers Market goodies.

To be in with a chance to win, people are asked to create a recipe suitable for a celebration picnic, which could serve four people. The rules are that only a maximum of seven ingredients can be used, including watercress.

The three finalists will be invited to bring their prepared dishes to the festival, where they will be joined on stage for the final tasting by the Mayor of Winchester and the celebrity chefs.

The closing date for entries is Saturday, May 7. To enter go to watercressfestival.org/competitions.

There is no entrance fee to the festival, which takes place in the centre of Alresford and will see roads closed.

Organisers urge visitors to give a donation to children's cancer charity Abby’s Heroes in exchange for the free watercress available throughout the the festival.

For more go to watercressfestival.org.

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