When: 1st May 2016, from 11am
Where: At a secret location in Blackawton, Devon
What is it?
If you are looking for something different to do this bank holiday weekend then you should head to this year’s Blackawton International Festival of Wormcharming. The contest will take place on Sunday 1st May and challenges teams to ‘charm’ as many worms out of the ground as possible, all whilst wearing fancy dress.
The 32nd annual wormcharming competition will be honouring the emergency services and has the theme of Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! Which is fitting, as proceeds from the event will be going to Devon Air Ambulance Trust. So if you fancy taking part, you’d better get creative and come up with an emergency services’ themed uniform. There are prizes for the best costumes, including a special superhero trophy, so the more effort you put in the better!
Blackawton has held an annual worm charming event since 1984 and it has gone from strength to strength every year. The day will begin at 11am, gathering outside The Normandy Arms. Charmers must be registered by 12 noon (this takes place by the bus stop). Then there will be a parade through Blackawton village, lead by the May Princess and Blackawton Morris, which competitors will join in with. Those taking part should expect a few stops along the way for some maypole dancing and the ‘Toasting of the Worm’. The toast is carried out by the ‘Worm Master’ who will invite everyone to raise their glasses to the worm. The procession will then finish at a secret venue, ready for the main event of worm charming!
So, how does the competition work? Teams are given a one metre square plot and are allowed 5 minutes to ‘worm up’ before being given 15 minutes to get as many worms ‘charmed’ out of the ground as possible. Digging and forking is not permitted.
Each worm charming team should be made up of three members; a Charmerer, a Pickerer and a Counterer. Beware, any competitors caught cheating will be put in the stocks or publicly humiliated!
The worm charming officials are made up of the Worm Master, who presides over the festival, and the International Judge, who makes sure the rules are upheld. Then there is the Official Cheat, a dubious character who will try to tempt the teams to cheat by offering them worms. Finally, there is Old Father Worm Charming, who will offer advice and guidance to the worm charmers.
The winner of the worm charming contest will get their name inscribed on a special shield alongside the previous winners. There are also worm charming medals for the winners and this year there will be specially made hero trophies.
After the worm charming event, at 2pm, there will be a dog show with classes for the waggiest tail, scruffiest dog, appealing-eyed dog, best handled dog, and the best fancy dressed dog. The dog show costs £1 per dog for each class entered and all proceeds will go to charity.
Local pub, The George Inn, will also be hosting live music on the day. Bands and artists playing this year include the Nauti Buoys, Harbottle & Jonas, Mother’s Ruin and Bottled Blonde.