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West Dean Chilli Fiesta 2014

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We set off from South London, deciding the satnav knew better than the AA and were soon hurtling down the A3. Crikey there are some bad drivers about today. A Police rolling Road block soon had us crawling along and we wondered if there would be anything left to see by the time we got there. As the traffic cleared we found out if you don't update your satnav, it doesn't know about the Hindhead tunnel and tells you you are offroading. Closed roads and diversions meant we eventually arrived considerably later than planned.

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Not having been before we were wondering if we were going to be the only people at the show. We needn't have worried as a man with a sombrero and a set of maracas guided us in to a parking space some distance from the entrance. As soon as we got out of the car a staff member spotted the missus' crutches and we were whisked away to the entry gate in a golf buggy. (Nice gesture)

After a short queue, we got to the payshed and were delighted to find that kids for a quid was for five to fifteen year olds (Another nice gesture)

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We had picked up an exhibitors list at the payshed, but didn't have a map/layout so just headed towards the music. There was a stage set up that had live music going throughout the day. A real eclectic mix from salsa (with accompanying dancing in front of the stage), a band from Broughty Ferry (That's near Dundee) dressed in kilts blasting out with electric guitars and bagpipes to a community drum band who were all very impressive.

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The stage was surrounded by food outlets. There was a really wide selection of food available and we managed a pizza, vegetable curry with rice and Naan and the obligatory chicken vindaloo for myself. This is a three day event and had we been there for three days I would have put on considerable weight sampling food from around the world, for breakfast lunch and dinner. I was surprised that the cost of the food was not excessive, as it can be at this sort of event, where the stalls know they have a captive audience.

 

The music continued to play as we set off around the venue, which I must say is very impressive. The huge range of products on display catered for everyone. It wasn't all about hot, hot, hot, there was also smokey flavours and sweet sauces, making it very difficult to select just a few jars and bottles.

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Chilli candy floss, chocolates and smoothies were all available and there was a large beer tent, a smaller cider tent and even wine tasting.

At the cookery and gardening theatre we were entertained by Rosemary Moon and Wayne Sleep

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as some interesting dishes were put together. The theatre had events all through the day, (Missed Chilli Dave from the Clifton Chilli Club who had been "performing" there on Friday, but did catch up with him later.

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Time and tiredness eventually wore us down, meaning we were unable to take in the funfair or walled gardens, so we grabbed a few bits for the garden and kitchen and trooped back to the car.

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Can't say how impressed I was with the whole event. The facilities were excellent, the surroundings and views fabulous, the organisation and hospitality first class and the entertainment top draw. I will be returning in October for the Grow Cook Eat show

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and if I can wangle it, next years fiesta (for all three days) Thank You West Dean 

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