Australia's Biggest Chilli Festival Ignites Taste Buds in Freo!

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At the end of the day it’s ‘just a herb’, but there is something mystical about the humble chilli that has captured the world’s imagination since the dawn of human history.
This fascination was on show with the annual LiveLighter Araluen Chilli Festival, supported by the City of Fremantle, attracting near-record crowds to the port city’s Esplanade Reserve. The crowds also spilled out into the streets of Fremantle, bringing a healthy boost to local businesses.
Australia’s largest and most successful chilli festival and arguably the world’s most popular hot food festival, saw around 100 stalls full of everything from chilli plants, condiments, sweets, foods, beverages and more, as well as roving entertainment and cooking demonstrations by local celebrity chefs.
Rod Ross, General Manager of event organiser Araluen Botanical Park Foundation, said that since its introduction in the summer of 2003, Araluen’s Chilli Festival has firmly established itself as one of WA’s premier cultural events.
“The Araluen Botanic Park Foundation relies on this event as an important fundraising and promotional opportunity to assist its not-for-profit cause at Araluen Botanic Park.  At the same time we seek to benefit the Fremantle community.  One of the initiatives we employ is to offer all-day pass outs so that visitors can also explore all that the port city offers,” Mr Ross said.
“We are delighted to acknowledge and thank our naming rights partner, Healthway, promoting the LiveLighter message. For the health and comfort of others both this event and Araluen Botanic Park are smoke free venues.”
“It’s been an ongoing success since the first one was held over ten years ago, but the move to Fremantle in 2011 has given the festival the chance to grow even more and it now attracts thousands of visitors from all over WA – this year was no exception,” he added.
With the near-record crowds not only at the event, but venturing though the city’s streets, Fremantle Chamber of Commerce CEO, Tim Milsom, said the event was a big boost to the local economy.
“These types of events provide a much needed boost for traders and anecdotally, many local businesses have told me that they did a roaring trade over the weekend,” Mr Milsom said.
“The Fremantle Business Improvement District’s (BID) automated people counters showed significant spikes in foot traffic compared to an average weekend. The overall 23% increase in pedestrians averaged out over various locations proves that ticketed events do contribute positively to Fremantle’s local economy.”
One business that felt the positive effect was local bar and restaurant, Benny’s, with the venue’s owner, Ivan Dzeba, saying the chilli extravaganza brought a noticeable increase in pedestrians throughout Fremantle, including South Terrace.
“It was a great couple of days and there was definitely an increase in the amount of people in and around Freo.  It was an event for the whole family which contributed to a great family-friendly vibe through the day and into the night,” Mr Dzeba said.
“People in Freo are often uncertain as to the knock-on effect of ticketed festivals and events to our local economy, but there is no doubting the positive effects of this one.”
Other businesses were also buoyed by the weekend’s trading, with the local grapevine in overdrive. There were reports of many businesses having bumper weekends, some the best they’d had in many years.
The event was not without a few hiccups though, with some traffic management issues, particularly on the Friday before the event.
“An event of this scale is never without a few things going wrong and Friday’s traffic snarl near the Esplanade as we set up was one of these.  As event organisers we take responsibility and I apologise wholeheartedly to commuters and residents for the inconvenience and distress it caused,” Mr Ross said.
“We’ve certainly learned a few things from this year that have already been adjusted for next year’s event.  One of these is the traffic management plan, which we’ve worked through with the City of Fremantle for next year. I’d like to thank the City for their assistance in quickly resolving Friday’s problem and for their involvement in formulating next year’s plan. I’m very confident the 2015 event will be just as big a success as this year, minus the traffic issues.”
Like to learn more?   Simply phone 9496 1171 or visit the website and its dedicated Chilli Festival page –


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