Bournemouth Sports Club must have been the hottest place in Dorset on 11 and 12 July when it played host to the Christchurch Cheese & Chilli Festival.
Stalls galore, with samples of cheese and chilli were guaranteed to tickle the taste-buds and tempted tons of tasters who couldn’t get enough of the chutneys, marinades, sauces and jams all richly plyed with chillis. Some stalls even ran out of their hottest supplies before the end of the day.
There was entertainment, food and drinks, wine tasting, a human stunt show, bouncy castle, falconry display plus sideshows to keep families occupied, but possibly the biggest crowd pleaser was the chilli eating competition.
Six brave, or possibly foolhardy men took their places on 11 July.
There were 15 flaming hot rounds that peaked with the world’s hottest reaper chilli. Incredibly there were two men left at the end so it went to a tie-break with both having to munch their way through as many ‘milder’ chillis as they could in a minute. It wasn’t surprising that the winner was shaking when he was awarded his prize of a bottle of champagne having packed away a further fourteen chillis, whereas his opponent only managed 12.
The other four contestants bowed out earlier and nobody blamed them. The scoville scale which measures the heat given out by chillis started at a mere 500 with a harmless looking green chilli and increased by the 15th round to the evil reaper measuring a massive 2.2 million.
Many spectators were in awe of those who munched their way through a range of chillis that included the chipotle, cayenne, Scotch bonnet, Trinidad scorpion and a ghost pepper. Having watched the contestants sweat and cry their way through the rounds, it was anybody’s guess what would happen to them the next morning.
In its second year, the Cheese & Chilli Festival yet again proved extremely popular.