When: 30th April 2017, from 11am
Where: At a secret location in Blackawton, Devon. Gather at the village’s Normandy Cross
£: Entry costs £5 per team. Free to watch (programmes cost £1)
What is it?
If you are looking for something different to do this bank holiday weekend, then head to this year’s Blackawton International Festival of Wormcharming. The contest will take place on Sunday 30th April and challenges teams to ‘charm’ as many worms out of the ground as possible, all whilst wearing fancy dress.
This year’s wormcharming competition has the magical theme of all things Potteresque. So if you fancy taking part, you’d better get creative and come up with a wizard outfit. There are prizes for the best costumes, 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 shelter). Hot food and drink will be available from a tent, and the nearby George Inn.
The festival will officially open with the ring of the church bells, followed by a parade through Blackawton village, led by the May Princess and local musicians, which competitors will join in with. Those taking part should expect a few stops along the way for some music from local children 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 will also be worm charming medals for the winners.
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 a beer festival and live music on the day. Other entertainment during the event will include donkey rides, drinks served from a horsebox, stalls, and 5-a-side football.