THOUSANDS of people are expected to attend the hottest food festival of the year next weekend. Now in its ninth year, the Great Dorset Chilli Festival at St Giles Park in Wimborne St Giles is a celebration of all things chilli from growing chilli plants and sampling chilli sauces, to enjoying spicy international street food and watching the popular chilli eating competition.

However it’s not just all chillies, so if chilli isn’t your thing there is plenty of shopping to be done, say organisers, from “hand-painted ceramics to jewellery, garden ironwork to beautifully crafted wooden chopping boards. Much of the food available to take home or enjoy for lunch focusses on flavour rather than chilli heat”.

New for this year is a change to the chilli cook-off format. The UK Chilli Cook-off Association is running a weekend-long, National Grand Masters Chilli Cook-off showcasing the best chilli teams in the country to determine who is the best chilli chef in the UK.

On the Saturday, teams will be asked to cook a chilli verde, which is a green pork, chicken or vegetable chilli. The dish will be judged by the public as well as the main judging team. Teams will then be asked to come up with a unique dish that showcases the team’s cooking and presentation skills in the Chef’s Choice category. On Sunday, teams will be cooking the traditional red chilli which will also be judged by the public as well as the judging team. The team with the highest score over the weekend will be crowned the 2019 UK Chilli Masters and win a prize pot of £1,000.

Other festival highlights include live music from tribute band Creedence Clearwater Review on Saturday and local heroes the Mother Ukers. Sunday sees the UK’s premier of Snake Oil plus celtic/bluegrass band The Orange Circus.

Special guests include Masterchef winner and Dorset-local, Mat Follas, in the demonstration kitchen.

The event runs from 10am –5pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more details, see