(Heat)Wave of approval for Dorset Chilli Festival

Our guest blogger Nathaniel Hobby went along to The Great Dorset Chilli Festival when it returned to Wimborne St Giles at the beginning of August for a fiesta of flavour and a celebration of spice:

Arriving at the car park, it was astonishing to be met with a sea of gleaming cars; thousands of chilli enthusiasts and taste thrill-seekers descending on the Festival to sample the best chilli delights on the menu.

The Festival, in its fourth year, was packed with action. The stage provided some of the entertainment, with bands providing an atmospheric backdrop as festivalgoers jumped from stall to stall to taste test chilli-based chutney, condiments, sauces, chocolates, jams, oils and relishes.

The chilli companies made the Festival what it was, offering a tempting array of treats (most with heat warnings!) to sample on the way round. Prize for the hottest item on the menu (by far!) had to go to a paste called Satan’s Sh*t produced by Chilli Pepper Pete. I was one of a number of people brave enough to walk up and put a dollop of the sauce on my cracker. 15 minutes, and two bottles of water, later my eyes were still streaming from the punch-packing paste!

The talk and demonstration tent was brilliant – a chance to pick up some tips of how to spice up your everyday meals. Another highlight was the falconry display – a great activity for the children as hawks and owls performed for a relaxed crowd. The hawk was especially fun, not least because he was still young and not quite fully-trained. The hawk flew inches from the crowd and misbehaved as he flew from building to building on the grounds, before finally returning to its owner. The hijinks of the hawk only provided further amusement for kids and adults gathered to watch.

Ringwood ales and local ciders were served in the beer tents; a welcome distraction for punters whose taste-buds were more than a little tingly after sampling some of the spicier items on offer.

There is so much more to mention; Mariachi bands, cooking competitions, eating competitions, growing competitions and food outlets galore make this a Festival not to miss.

We didn’t want to leave empty handed so took home a lovely Strawberry and Chilli Jam made by The Chillies, perfect on toast and a tingly reminder of a brilliant Dorset day out!

This is one Festival that is already in my diary for next year – and I can’t wait!

There's quite a few chilli festivals this summer across the country, if this one sounds like your cup of tea then check out these that are still to come:

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