After what seemed like a nano second of sleep, our alarm sounded at an un-godly 5am, signalling that it was time to get ourselves down to Brighton for the final UK Chilli festival of the season.
This was our first time at the Brighton event so we didn’t know what to expect, however knowing the guys at Chilli Pepper Pete and their great reputation within the industry, we were expecting a great weekend to unfold.
We indulged in our traditional pre-festival McDonalds breakfast and after 2 hours of uneventful motorway driving, we finally arrived at Victoria Gardens, the home of the Brighton Chilli Festival.
After a quick check-in with the very helpful and friendly event staff, we were soon setting up our pitch inside the large marquee. Our pitch was just inside the end of the marquee and we were pleased to be next to our good friend Tim from the Cambridge Chilli Farm. Out of the 6 events we’ve attended over the summer, we’ve had Tim as our neighbour for 5 of them, so it’s fair to say we’ve gotten to know each other quite well!
Tim @ Cambridge Chilli Farm
As this has been our very first year as traders on the chilli circuit and we’d pretty much thrown ourselves in the deep end in terms of the events we’ve attended, it has taken us the whole summer to learn just what to pack, how much stock to bring and how to set up in a timely fashion! We’re pleased to say that we FINALLY got our set up routine nailed in time for Brighton! This meant that we had out stall set up in plenty of time and for once, we were pretty chilled out by the time the customers came through the gates. Result!
The morning was pretty steady in terms of people but it really picked from about 1pm onwards, as the rest of Brighton seemed to have woken up and came in their droves to buy some heat. This was the first time that many of the pubic in Brighton had seen us and we’re delighted to report that our products and brand went down a storm with the locals!
With entertainment from a traditional Mexican Mariachi band, a full stage with many local bands, lots of hot & cold food to choose from and of course a well stocked and reasonably priced bar, it’s fair to say that the party was in full swing by mid-afternoon. The latter half of the day was reserved for the infamous chilli eating contest where a selection of the public go head to head in a battle of bravado, capsaicin tolerance and stupidity! The ‘winner’ received a cash prize for their troubles, much to the amusement of the audience =)
Sinful Sauces - Two National Chilli Awards
Another major feature of the Brighton Chill Festival were the National Chill Awards, where accolades are given to companies and individuals for their achievements, as voted by a panel of judges. We were very surprised and delighted to pick up not one, but two awards at the event! We won the award for ‘Best Newcomer’ and also for ‘Best Label’, which was particularly poignant because the artist, Paul Garner, who designed our ‘chilli devil’ character on our 7 Deadly Sins sauce labels is a local from Brighton. To top it off, Paul had come to the festival to see us and was able to share the award with us on the day, making it very special for us all.
With the event winding down for the day, we met up with Rose from Chilli Pepper Pete who took us to see their new shop in the North Laines area. It was great to finally see the shop in the flesh and it was very impressive site to see every wall quite literally covered with chilli products!
We then marched across the street to The Lord Nelson pub where a function room in the back had been reserved for the Chilli Pepper Pete festival traders! Suffice to say, the next few hours were spent indulging in beer and various chilli stories and with such luminaries as Ivor from The Devils Garden, Niall from Mr. Vikkis, Simon the ChilliJamMan, Tim from Cambridge Chilli Farm, Darth Naga & Mrs Naga, Jamie from Wiltshire Chilli Farm, Eat More Heat and of course the team from Chilli Pepper Pete, the night was a fitting end to a very successful and enjoyable day.
With a sluggish start and many booze related stall-holder casualties on site, the day began.
Sunday was pretty much a repeat performance of Saturday in terms of how the festival unfolded however, there seemed to be more families in attendance. The weather was a little hit and miss with occasional downpours however, this didn’t deter the great British public from coming out and having fun. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t do much in the UK if we let the weather get in the way!
Another day of brisk trade ensued with our neighbours Cambridge Chilli Farm,Lily’s Chillies and Bim’s Kitchen all looking really busy throughout the afternoon. As the day wound down we managed to treat ourselves to a delicious (and we mean delicious) ice cream from Purbeck’s before getting ready to pack down and ready ourselves for the journey home.
Overall, we had a fantastic weekend in Brighton and it was a thoroughly enjoyable event that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone. Event if you’re not a fan of chilli and spice, it’s definitely worth a visit for the warm and friendly atmosphere that the festival provides.
We were a little saddened with this being the last chilli festival of the season but we’ve had a fantastic summer overall and have met some amazing people, having made some great new friends along the way. Now that we have some experience under our belts, we can’t wait to get stuck into the 2012 chilli season and look forward to catching up with our friends and hopefully making some new ones too!
Many thanks to everyone we’ve met this year and a special thanks to Rose & Shane for the kind hospitality and also to Tim for the continual advice and help along the way.
We hope to see you soon!
Paul & Kelly