Ramsbottom was “chock-a-block” with visitors at the weekend as thousands flocked to the town to get a flavour of its fourth annual Chocolate Festival.

The two-day taste extravaganza was rated as the “biggest and best so far” with attractions and activities combined with good weather.

Miss Gina Ball, chairman of the Ramsbottom Business Group, was overjoyed at the success of the event, staged on Saturday and Sunday. She said “We had an amazing turn-out and it really went extremely well.”

Event organiser Ruth Shedwick said: “This festival exceeds my expectations every year, with thousands of people having a great time and seeing what “hidden gems” are on offer. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival.”

One of the highlights was UK Chocolate champion John Costello who made a giant chocolate sculpture of an Olympic gold medallist. Visitors were able to step on to the podium at St Paul’s Church garden to have their picture taken with him.

A special guest who witnessed John’s creation was CBBC’s Hacker the Dog, who interviewed the sculptor.

Other popular attractions included award-winning produce from chocolatiers and a special Choc Fest beer produced by local breweries Irwell Works and Outstanding Beers. The Chocolate Festival Bar returned with a chicken tikka massala flavour, while local musicians performed at the chill-out tent.

Jackie Kearney, semi-finalist in 2011’s Masterchef, had crowds queuing to taste her vegetarian cuisine from her new business venture ‘The Hungry Gecko’.

Wearable and edible choc jewellery was available at Red Jewellers.

Local schools, nurseries and clubs also featured in a giant Easter egg competition display at Ramsbottom Civic Hall, the winners of which were Daisy Chain Nursery and Hollins Grundy.

Other events on the bumper programme included alfresco dining, chocolatier and craft workshops, and East Lancashire Railway’s Chocolate Rail Ale tour, combining a trip on the heritage railway with visits to some of the area’s best real ale establishments. Shops also displayed flags of cocoa producing countries as part of a competition.

Mrs Ball added: “It shows people we have a wonderful town, how friendly everyone is and how great a place it is to visit. And the weather was also perfect.”