THE sun shone on Shobdon last weekend as the village's two major festivals combined for the first time.

The tri-annual Shobdon Flower Festival, in its 25th year, and the Shobdon Food and Drink Festival, in only its third, had never been held simultaneously before and many were worried that predicted heavy rain could make the event a wash-out.

However, while many nearby villages did get the forecasted showers, Shobdon stayed dry, and helper Terry Teale is sure he knows why.

"If anyone doesn't believe in the power of prayer, they should have been here," he said.

"We hardly had a drop over the weekend. The festival finished at 5pm on Sunday and by 10 past it was raining. We couldn't have timed it more perfectly."

Visitors came from all over the county to sample a large variety of local produce, as well as to marvel at a host of floral displays, complemented by the unique architecture of Shobdon's St John the Evangelist Church.

Last year, the food festival attracted 2,500 paying visitors, making a profit of £5,000 after breaking even in 2005. This year, Saturday saw at least 1,500 people visit with a total of around 3,000 paying visitors over the weekend.

Organiser Matt Teale said: "I believe the festival can continue to grow year on year, but it has to be a gradual process. For example, this year we had 56 stalls, but I had to turn away a further 30 or so, including 20 from a French market, because I have to be sure there are enough visitors for all the traders.

"It takes a big effort to organise two festivals at the same time, but we have been helped by almost 100 volunteers from the village. We have been sponsored by Border Oak, which will help us to make a bigger profit to give to this year's charities - the Church Fund and Shobdon Primary School, who need a new playground.

"The church needs around £14,000 a year to keep going, and this festival goes a long way to finding that money."