Sorry for the delay – our internet is back! (YAY) Here’s the run down…I think the pictures do it more justice though.
The West Dean Chilli Fiesta is a festival held once a year on the grounds of the West Dean College. It was the festival’s 20th anniversary this year so all the stops were pulled out, from chilli throwing competitions to cookery demonstrations and live music.
It was a bright sunny day (read HOT) and we drove over to the site, drove through a field and parked up. With a quick wander down to the festival entrance you could really see the beauty of the area. The site is noted in the Domesday Book and was owned by the James family. In 1912 possession landed in the hands of Edward James who turned it into what it is today. Left to the Edward James Foundation the whole site is a charitable organisation.
Edward James was a friend of Salvador Dalí and they created the Lobster Telephone in 1936 – the lobster claws now adorn the college entrance – with a chilli for good measure!
We started with a wander round the tens of stalls selling everything from chilli jam to chocolate brownies. The stalls were all of such high quality and the stallholders were all friendly. They were happy to talk to us about their products and provide tasters (always a plus point!)
With a beer and a rest halfway round (the heat was getting to us) it was soon lunch time. With a detour for some Falafel (and some more beer) we sat and listened to some mexican music! There were endless people with sombrero’s wandering round it was a little surreal.
We finished off our walk round the stalls – after a pit stop to drop off purchases to the car – and headed up to the Victorian glass houses. These are currently the focus of their fundraising as they are in need of some TLC. The glass houses were lovely and were the home to many many chilli plants! We had a walk round the gardens (and had a nosey at the veg patch!) and wandered back to the car.
There were other forms of entertainment in the shape of a Helter Skelter, Ferris wheel, face painting and a punch and judy show. We did miss most of this due to our fascination with the wonderful wares on offer. We thoroughly enjoyed our day at the festival and wished we had the endurance to stay into the evening for more entertainment and fireworks but as usual we peak too early!
I would totally recommend booking to go for a day or for the whole weekend next year – even if you don’t like chilli’s, there are tons of things to do and a really good atmosphere! See you there.
Have you been to the Chilli Fiesta or West Dean? Any recommendations for foodie festivals?