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New venue has a kick for festival

Paul Murrell and his brother Martin with their Chilli Pepper Pete stall.
Paul Murrell and his brother Martin with their Chilli Pepper Pete stall.

Thousands of people descended on Blyth as a popular food festival made its annual return.

The North East Chilli Fest took place for the first time at Meggies Burn Fields in South Beach, and organiser Mark Deakin – who started the event in 2012 with his wife Shelley – believes it has a new home.

Visitors enjoying themselves at the North East Chilli Fest.

Visitors enjoying themselves at the North East Chilli Fest.

The first five festivals were held at Seaton Delaval Hall before moving to farmland near Meggies Burn Field, but this year saw a new location and new theme – The Festival by the Sea.

Mark said: “The location was ideal and Northumberland County Council, which owns the land, couldn’t have been more helpful.

“The fantastic weather certainly helped and everybody had a great time. It would have been nice to be able to show England winning the World Cup, but you can’t have everything.”

The Chilli Fest, as ever, was a mixture of food, drink, music and comedy.

Tim Whiteley of Retro Shots at the North East Chilli Fest.

Tim Whiteley of Retro Shots at the North East Chilli Fest.

Sheffield-based Chilli Pepper Pete, run by Paul Murrell and helped by his brother Martin, brought its sauces, honeys, salamis, rubs and raw chillis.

He said: “We do festivals all over Germany, Holland and Belgium. Everybody’s taste is completely different.

“Luckily, we’ve made friends with the ice cream man and pointed our customers in his direction if they found our chilli too hot.”

Some of the producers will be back for other events organised by Deakins, which are taking place later this summer.

The Proper Food and Drink Festival visits Cramlington’s Seven Oaks Park for the third time on July 28 and 29, before it moves to Blyth’s Ridley Park on August 11 and 12.

Admission is free to both.