With visions of brightly coloured chillies, wild and wonderful tents, and an atmosphere that was charged with heat I decided to head to the Dorset Chilli Festival with a friend and his kids for a blast of the fiery nectar. Sunday proved to look promising with the sun in the sky and fairly clear roads I made my way to Kingston Lacy House where in the grounds the festival was to take place on.
Arriving at Kingston Lacy House you are met with the sheer size of this elegant estate. Surely it was a good sign of things to come. We were soon shown to a parking spot and made our way to the entrance where our first surprise awaited us.
On arrival we were met with a sign that stated £7.50 admission charge with children under the age of 4 years old for free. This was two adults and three children all of them above the age of four. A total of £37.50 entrance. Nowhere had I seen it was at this price and we saw a man and a couple of upset punters debating the price with one of the attendants. I use the word ‘debate’ as a more diplomatic term.
Chilli Festival or the Great Hot Rip Off
We paid our entrance fee and made our way into the Dorset Chilli Festival and were met with about approx. between 30 – 40 tents that were all selling chilli related products. None of them exhibited the beautiful stalls of brightly coloured chillies were hoping to see. In actual fact it was a miserable state of affairs. It was all vendors doing their best to sell as much as they possibly could. Was there any sign of the spirit that goes into a festival – no there was not. This was sadly disappointing.
We met a guy with a counter who was taking a head count with a ‘counter thingy’– we thought he was one of the organisers and went to speak to him. He told he was not anything to do with it and said he had heard many complaints.
Looking at their Facebook page this morning it is replete with complaints not just about the pricing but the festival itself.
All in all this was not worth £7.50 and nevertheless I will not return next year. It’s a shame really as if the organisers Surefire Events had really done their homework they could have put on a great festival. Instead as one Facebook member commented: “ We had to pay £7.50 for entrance to a Chilli Market” it was by no means a festival.