THOUSANDS of people basked in the sun and had a ‘gouda’ time as the popular Cheese & Chilli Festival made its long-awaited return.

Held for the first time since 2019 due to pandemic restrictions, this year’s festival has seen close to 100 traders tantalise the taste buds of scores of families, couples and friends.

Whilst the various cheese and chilli stands were notably popular attractions, dozens of other traders offered an array of alternatives including pancakes, burgers, milkshakes, tacos, and plenty of alcohol.

Visitors from near and far travelled to the event, which is taking place in Hurn next to Bournemouth Airport, with festivities like mini golf, cooking demonstrations, live music and the main event chilli eating competition proving to be top draws.

Bournemouth Echo: 2022 Cheese and Chilli Festival in Christchurch2022 Cheese and Chilli Festival in Christchurch

Event organiser Simon Stewart said he initially hoped the event would attract around 5,000 people across the two-day period but was pleased to see close to that amount attend day one on Saturday.

He told the Echo: “We’ve been running this event since 2014 and it’s been getting busier and busier each year. We get such great support from the local community and we’re actually from the area so it’s great we’re so well received.

“It’s been two years since we were able to hold this so we were a bit nervous about this year because we didn’t know whether people would remember us. But we’re so amazed by the turnout, it has been brilliant.

“This is a celebration of cheese and chilli, my two favourite things on this planet, and I think we should celebrate them. But it’s also a family day out, we’re very budget friendly and we raise money for charity while we’re here.”

Bournemouth Echo: 2022 Cheese and Chilli Festival in Christchurch2022 Cheese and Chilli Festival in Christchurch

Jason Moors, who attended the event with his wife and son, said: “Great event, fantastic for families and lots of free stuff for kids – my son had a really great time and there’s lots to see and do. We’ve been in previous years and always enjoy it.

“I tried some of the really hot sauces, some cheese, had some really nice wraps. Pick of the bunch for me, though, were the kebab wraps which were amazing.”

Poole resident Elaine Kent joked: “I don’t really like cheese or chilli so in theory I shouldn’t even be here. But actually, it’s just a nice day out, I don’t think you need to be a massive foody to have fun at something like this. I’d definitely recommend it.”

The 2022 Cheese & Chilli Festival continues on Sunday, May 29, from 10am to 5pm.

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