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Red-hot chilli peppers competition to spice up Food & River Festival

Michelle Donelan enjoying that winning feeling in 2013, with compere Chris Aukland.

Michelle Donelan enjoying that winning feeling in 2013, with compere Chris Aukland.

Melksham’s first ever Food & River Festival is sure to be a sizzling event – whatever the weather.

Intrepid competitors with a passion for pungent peppers, will be invited to test the strength of their taste buds by eating chillies of increasing intensity; the chillies will be provided by the Wiltshire Chilli Farm.

Adrienne Westbrook, Chair of the organising committee said, “The chilli eating competition is one of the highlights of the festival and always attracts a big crowd. Past winners have included Chippenham’s new Member of Parliament, Michelle Donelan. She was one of three winners in 2013, and the fiery experience may have helped her prepare for the fierce heat and competition in the House of Commons!

“Anyone who would like to enter this year’s competition, should call 01225 704187 or email foodandriverfestival@ melkshamtown.co.uk; there will be plenty of milk provided by Waitrose to help calm any after effects!”

The two day event will take place on 5th and 6th September from 10.30am onwards. LittleFest, on Saturday, will be based at the Littlebrook Centre near Waitrose, with festival sponsors Waitrose leading the regatta-themed day of outdoor eating, and tastings and samplings of locally supplied products.

There will also be a number of events supported by Candy Jax, Andy York Photography, CJ’s café and Honey’s that will keep the children entertained.

The King George V Playing Field will be the venue for Sunday’s event, with over 50 stalls selling an array of local food, drink and food related products; from churros with chocolate, local ale, pies, pizzas and pickles, to chopping boards.

Sunday will also see cookery demonstrations, including one by new Melksham Italian venue Casa Restaurant, a demonstration of how to make paella, a Waitrose masterclass on how to prepare fish, and an ‘Anybody Can Cook’ session. Lively Irish tunes will be provided by popular Melksham folk trio Wessex Contraband.

As the name suggests, there will also be plenty of action on the River Avon, organised by the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust. Both Saturday and Sunday will see public boat trips and Try Canoeing sessions; plus a water rescue demonstration by the Fire Service, and a demonstration by Bradford on Avon Diving Club on Sunday. It is also hoped to have a flotilla of steam and motor powered boats for visitors to enjoy.

Brian De’Ath, Wilts & Berks Canal Trust volunteer said, “We had a fantastic weekend for the River Festival in 2014, and this year we are delighted to be in partnership with the Food Festival for the first ever Food & River Festival. It promises to be a splendid event with plenty of food, drink and water-based activities.

“Children have not been forgotten either: as well as the Saturday activities at Littlefest,  on Sunday there will be face painting, a bouncy castle and fairground attractions, along with a celebrity appearance of Frankie the Canal Horse.

“We hope to see many local families and visitors enjoying themselves, sampling delights from our fantastic local producers, and appreciating a ride along the beautiful River Avon.”

For more information, please visit the official website at: melkshamfoodfestival.weebly.com