A FESTIVAL with a bit of added spice is set to return to Dorset this summer.

The Great Dorset Chilli Festival will take place on August 3 and 4 at the Stock Gaylard Estate, near Sturminster Newton.

The festival promises ‘great food, music, entertainment and competitions, with a bit of added spice’, organisers said.

With the announcement of the 13th edition of the festival, a chilli plant growing competition has also been launched.

Organisers said that seeds need to be sown now to ensure ripe chilli fruit by August, to be judged in the competition.

The annual competition will be judged on the first day of the festival and is an established part of it, where amateur chilli-growing enthusiasts can enter classes to compete for the best looking chilli plant.

“Much like a village horticultural show, the chilli plant competition attracts many entries from across the region. Growers compete for a traditional rosette, and the competition tent is hugely popular with festival visitors,” festival director, Miles Halton, said.

Within the competition, there are two classes.

The first is for the new chilli variety, Cardiff Queen, developed by Dorset-based Sea Spring Seeds near Bridport.

This chilli produces lots of mildly hot fruit on short, trailing plans, so it is ideal for growing in pots.

The second class is the open class, into which any chilli plant can be entered.

Plants will be judged on appearance, development, condition and fruiting.

Judging will be done by two respected commercial chilli seed growers, Michael Michaud of Sea Spring Seeds, and Matt Simpson of Simpson’s Seeds.

As well as the Cardiff Queen, Sea Spring Seeds also developed the hot Dorset Naga chilli.

Matt is known for his appearances on TV shouting ‘grow, damn you’ at his chilli plants.

The winner of each competition class will receive a £50 gift voucher from local instore and online cookware and gardening retailer, Harts of Stur, based in Sturminster Newton.

Visitors to the festival can also claim some free Cardiff Queen seeds, supplied by Sea Spring Seeds.

For more information on claiming the seeds, email info@greatdorsetchillifestival.co.uk and for details on the festival visit its website.