The heat is on at this summer’s Festival by the Sea as its famous chilli eating competition notches up a few degrees.
The competition – presented by Rob Dumbrell – has always been one of the highlights for festival-goers as they witness the pride and pain of the participants.
“And this year it’s getting really serious,” said Mark Deakin who, with his wife Shelley, launched the festival – previously known as the North East Chilli Fest – in 2012.
“Our brave amateurs will be taking on one of the greatest and bravest competitive chilli eaters in history,” said Mark.
She is Shahina Zeenat Waseem from London who is undefeated in 50 competitions and rightfully known as the UK Chilli Queen.
One brave challenger – keyboard player Mike Porter from Smoove and Turrrell, who will be playing at the festival – has already announced he will take on Shahina, and several surprise well-known names are also planning to get involved.
“We can’t say who they are yet,” said Mark Deakin, “but – put it this way – I think we’re going to have a lot of tears and fake tan stains on the stage afterwards.”
The Festival by the Sea takes place from 5 to 7 July at Meggies Burn Fields at South Beach in Blyth.
It will feature a main outdoor stage, marquees for exhibitors and performers, a producers’ market, beer and cocktail bars and street food. There will be a campsite for motorhomes, caravans and tents, and plenty of on-site parking.
Areas of the site are set aside for children’s activities and arts and crafts. There will also be a holistic healing zone.
As well as Smoove and Turrell, other performers include The Neville Staple Band, The Mighty Smoking Spitfires, Third Beat Drop, Bombskare, Dennis, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5, The Lancashire Hotpots, The Skapones, Voice of the Town, Nick Pride & The Pimptones, Hip Hop Hooray, Hot Bullets of Shotgun, SOULutions and The Caffreys.
“Last year is a hard act to follow but we’ve been working really hard to make this year’s Festival by the Sea even better,” said Mr Deakin.
“People come year after year because they enjoy the style of the festival, which is very laid back. Meggies Burn Fields is also a great location because there’s loads of space and you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of each other.
“When we started the North East Chilli Fest in 2012 we never thought it would become what it is now. There’s a great team working behind the scenes and they’re extremely proud of what they’ve achieved. Despite the quality of the event and the entertainment we’ve still managed to keep the price of tickets very low.”