Chilli dipping sauces, chilli jams, chilli sausage rolls, not forgetting chilli chocolate brownies, chilli plants, even chilli art. All things hot and sizzling are celebrated each August at West Dean Chilli Fiesta.
My day started with a man in a colourful sombrero shaking his maracas at me as he directed me into the next parking space. I knew I was in for a fun day. Once through the gate, I found stall after stall of chilli products, many of which were locally produced. I had no idea there were that many different sauces available. By the third time someone pulled out a shopping list, I was no longer surprised. Quite clearly many of these stalls were well-loved regular favourites at this annual event. One man seemed to be getting quite ‘hot under the collar’ that he’d forgotten what his wife had asked him to pick up!
With street entertainers and live Latin music as well as few fun fair rides, there was a fabulous atmosphere and of course, the gardens at West Dean are always a treat to look around. If you’ve never been don’t wait for their next big event to visit.
Looking around the stalls, I came across a few old favourites including O’Hagans Sausages made just up the road in Sidelsham, south of Chichester in West Sussex. They’re a family business that pride themselves in the quality of their product. They use only the finest fresh ingredients and absolutely no mechanically recovered meat, genetically modified ingredients, colourings, preservatives or any other artificial additives. As well as the more familiar range of sausages, they do a variety of exotic sausages, such as Venison, Redcurrant & Port Sausages or their Drunken Duck Sausages. Their Satan Sausages come with a recommendation to have a glass of beer or wine to hand while eating. Don’t mind if I do!
O’Hagans had created a few new recipes just for the festival. My Goan sausage smothered in mango chutney was delish! If you want to try them for yourself, visit The Woolpack Inn in Fishbourne, near Chichester, where you’ll find their shop, which not only sells their award winning sausages, but has a wonderful range of other local products.
Back at the festival, I also discovered many new treats, not least the tasty the chilli sausage rolls from Fair Dinkum Fare and the excellent award winning Mr Vikkis sauces. The absolute highlight of my chilli-filled over indulgent day though, came in the shape of a scrumptious chilli chocolate brownie from Gourmet Brownies. I brought one home with me to share with my husband but telling him was a big mistake. One bite and I regretted not keeping it all for myself.
Visit West Dean Garden’s website to find out more about this and other events at these beautiful gardens near Chichester in West Sussex.
For a peep inside the house at West Dean and the stunning gardens, check out our review of West Dean Arts & Crafts Festival.
This may have been our first visit to West Dean Chilli Fiesta but it certainly won’t be the last. See you there for a sizzling time next year!
Good to know
West Dean Gardens is 6 miles north of Chichester on the A286 towards Midhurst.
The gardens are open to the public from 1st February to 24th December each year.
Entry costs £5.75 in February, November and December and £9 the rest of the year with no charge for children under12. However, during the annual Arts and Crafts Festival held in early June and the Chilli Festival in August, tickets to the events must be purchased.
Up to date opening times and prices can be found here, West Dean Gardens.
Regular events and evening concerts are held throughout much of the year. Full details of forthcoming events can be found here, Events at West Dean Gardens.