VIDEO: Chilli fans head to West Dean’s fiesta

ALL things hot and spicy are being celebrated in style at West Dean’s Chilli Fiesta this year.

With hundreds of chilli-fanatics coming to celebrate the hottest chilli event on the calendar, the heat was on for the three-day festival to be the best yet.

C111283-11 Chi Chilli Fest  phot kate''Rebecca and Marki Ford with who designed and created a giant Chilli.C111283-11

C111283-11 Chi Chilli Fest phot kate''Rebecca and Marki Ford with who designed and created a giant Chilli.C111283-11

And it didn’t seen to disappoint.

“It is our first time to the festival,” said Vera Sauders, from Eastergate.

“We are enjoying it enormously – it is in such a lovely setting.

“We are soaking up the atmosphere,” said Roger Saunders. “We have tried a few chillies and burnt our tongues and now we’re having an ice-cream to cool down.”

West Dean’s glass houses in the walled gardens were open for the public to see where the best of West Dean’s chillies are grown.

There were chilli-growing demonstrations and a cookery theatre for revellers to make the most out from their chillies.

Strictly dancers Crystal Main and Ian Banham also put on a show on the stage and there was live music throughout the day.

“Its definitely busier this year, and there seem to be more stalls,” said Rita Thompson from Leatherhead.

“I think the festival has become more appealing to a wider range of people.”

Stall holders from far and wide were also selling their products and giving tasters – there were chilli dips, sauces, chilli pepper plants and chilli-chocolate churros among plenty of other chilli-themed gifts.

Sarah Payne, founder of West Grinstead-based company Cocoa Loco, said: “It is our favourite festival to come to - this is our seventh year and we really enjoy it.”

The festival’s last day is tomorrow, Sunday, August 11, but it the Chilli Fiesta is set to return to West Dean next year.

Pictures from the weekend will be in next week’s Observer (Thursday, 15).