Fri, 18 May 2018
A FAMOUS song released by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is called Can’t Stop, but it was a case of can’t carry on for some as Newbury hosted a chilli-eating contest on Sunday.
A bumper crowd of around 6,000 people packed into the Market Place to witness the event, which was a joint collaboration between Oxfordshire chilli festival and Newbury Business Improvement District (BID).
The eye-watering challenge was hosted by chilli cultivator expert The Wiltshire Chilli Farm, and started with competitors chewing down the ‘milder’ jalapeno chilli.
There were grimaces and red faces as the heat intensified and those taking part battled with the green bird’s eye chilli, red bird’s eye chilli, Scotch bonnet and the habanero.
No one could manage to get to the last – the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion – currently the world’s second hottest chilli.
There was just one rule to abide by – no liquids in or out – and each participant was given a glass of milk beforehand to prepare themselves for the challenge ahead.
There was late drama before the event, as the UK’s ‘chilli queen’ Shahina Waseem – who is unbeaten in 25 contests – had to withdraw at the last minute due to a dislocated jaw.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, she said: “I’m absolutely gutted not to be competing.
“I have set myself a target of 50 competitions and I really wanted to make it my 26th in Newbury, but it wasn’t to be.”
She did co-host the event, though, and offered words of support and encouragement to the others.
The chilli-eating contest was part of a festival which boasted an array of street food and artisan traders across 50 different stalls, with seeds, plants and sauces available to buy.
A selection of gourmet treats and street food from around the world also featured, from US barbecue to Mexican, Nepalese dumplings, Thai, Indian and more.
Other traders sold everything from breads, cakes, cheeses and artisan bacon to Mexican handicrafts and fair trade clothing.
Rah Rah’s Gin Bar and its vintage caravan were also on hand with a choice of 26 gins.
Before the contest, the crowds were treated to live music from Radio 1Xtra favourite Zaia and several other bands.
Local company Djkit.com launched its new DJ experience workshop and invited guests to get behind the decks and learn from the experts.
There were also trampolines for children, face-painting and old-fashioned fairground sideshows, including hook-a-duck.