County's ongoing appetite for weird and wacky events
For some parts of Britain, sporting activity extends to football, rugby or perhaps a little cricket - but here in Lancashire we like our events a little more unusual.
From grappling in gravy to charming worms, the county has an enviable position as home of some of the most bizarre events in Britain’s cultural calendar.
Some, like Bacup’s coconut dancers, are ancient traditions with obscure origins shrouded in mystery.
While others are more modern, like the Great Eccleston tractor-pulling championships, which pits powerful machines against one another and attracts competitors from across Europe.
And several, like gravy-wrestling or the world pie-eating championships, seem to revolve around food.
Whatever the case, they are all wild, wacky and a great deal of fun. Here we bring you our personal highlights of Lancashire’s calendar.
1. Gravy Wrestling
Without a doubt this is one of the world’s craziest culinary competitions.
Contestants must wrestle in gravy for two minutes whilst being scored for audience applause and various different moves.
It is held at the Rose n Bowl, Stacksteads, Rossendale, on August Bank Holiday Monday every year.
2. North West Puddle Jumping Championships
Children are actively encouraged to splash in puddles at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre from February 11 to 19.
The competition is at 2pm each day, with welly throwing between 1pm and 2pm and leap frogging from 11am until 12.30pm.
Entry is 50p.
3. Worm Charming
The unusual sporting event, at Aspull Parish Church, Wigan, which sees competitors use vibrations to charm as many worms out of their plot of ground in a time limit as they can, will be in its fifth year. Usually held in June.
4. Ramsbottom World Black Pudding Throwing Championships
In this annual competition the ancient grudge between Yorkshire and Lancashire is played out again – this time by hurling Black Puddings at a pile of Yorkshire puddings on a 20-foot high plinth.
Competitors have three turns in an attempt to knock down as many Yorkshire puddings as possible.
The competition dates back to the 1980s and is held on the second Sunday of September.
5. Egg Rolling
Eggs are rolled down the slopes at Avenham Park, in Preston, every Easter Monday – in the past these were traditional decorated boiled eggs but now are often of the chocolate variety.
The event also hosts an Easter Bonnet competition and has family entertainment.
6. Rawtenstall Clog
Clog Cobbin is a sporting event with origins in the 1970s that is held every Easter Sunday at The Roebuck Inn, Rawtenstall. A traditional Lancashire clog (with a leather top and wooden sole) is thrown as far as possible.
Competitors must throw backwards over the shoulder and avoid making the clog land in the river. There are prizes for men, ladies and children. As well as the competition, there are charity stalls and a tug-of-war.
7. Wigan World Pie Eating Championships
The World Pie Eating Championships take place at Harry’s Bar in Wigan in mid December. The winner is the person who manages to eat a standard pie fastest, with a beef and potato filling and the current World Record stands at 23.53 seconds, achieved by Martin Appleton Clare in 2012.
Before 2006 the competition took place over a set time and the winner was the competitor who ate the most pies during that time – the rules were altered to meet government healthy eating guidelines.
8. Pram Race
Teams dress up in wacky costumes and push a pram or cart round the streets of Longridge on Boxing Day. The event was cancelled last year, but revellers still dressed up and created a low-key affair. Landlady of Towneley Arms Charlotte Horabin is hoping to get a committee together to resurrect the popular event.
9. Tractor Pulling
The sport, held in Great Eccleston, has been dubbed ‘the world’s most powerful motor sport’ and now attracts thousands of spectators every August. The activity involves tractors pulling weight transfer sledges along a 100 metre race track. The winner is the tractor that can pull the weight sledge the furthest.
10. Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers
The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers of Bacup are a uniquely dressed male folk-dance side who perform every Easter Saturday all around their town. They have blackened faces to conceal their identities and wear wooden discs at the knee (it is believed that their name comes from these discs being referred to as coconuts) as well as short white skirts, black breeches and jumpers, and rosette-decorated hats.
They perform a series of dances with hooped garlands and are accompanied by Stacksteads Silver Band.
11. Lawn Mower Racing
The North West Lawnmower Racing Association provide a full programme of racing every year at Scorton Steam.
Lawn Mower Racing was started in the UK in 1973 by a group of motorsports enthusiasts, led by Jim Gavin, in West Sussex. At the time they were discussing new ideas for different forms of motorsport. They eventually settled on lawn mowers while, legend has it, standing in the toilets and looking out over the cricket pitch watching the groundsman mow the grass.
The British Lawn Mower Racing Association was formed, and as popularity grew, The North West branch was created.
This year’s Scorton Steam will be June 17 and 18.
12. Ferret Racing
Ferret Roadshow travels up and down the country with his ferrets who race across an obstacle course. It is a regular feature at Goosnargh and Longridge Agricultural Show, which will this year take place on July 8.
13. New Year’s Dip
Organised by Fleetwood Kite Club, the New Years Day Dip is a tradition at Fleetwood, which started in the 1990s and is growing in popularity every year.
It has raised money for various causes over the years and this year money will be raised for the RNLI.
Some swimmers will wear fancy dress, others will paddle, many will watch.
There are no rules other than no wetsuits allowed.
14. World Kneesy Earsy Nosey Championships
The event has been held annually on the first Saturday of September at Bryan Masonic Hall in Wigan, since the 1990s.
Kneesy, Earsy Nosey is a coordination “game” perfectly executed by Stan Laurel in more than one Laurel and Hardy film (Ollie could never do it). It involves the sitting subject slapping their knees then quickly crossing their hands in front of their face, one hand grabbing the nose and the other the far ear. They then slap their knees again and cross the hands the other way, gripping the nose and the other ear. This is repeated numerous times.
At the Wigan festival, the Grand Sheikhs of the various Laurel and Hardy tents (or branches) adjudicate as competitors sit there performing until a slip-up is spotted.
15. Frog Racing
Watching frogs leap across a table is another popular event.
The activity takes place at Longridge Sports and Social Club on Saturday February 18. It also includes a hot pot supper.