Autumn has arrived with leaves turning to reds and browns and Horse Chestnut trees dispatching their bounty. So, it must be time for the annual World Conker Championships! This year’s event takes place on Sunday 10th October at the usual place, Southwick’s Shuckburgh Arms in Northamptonshire.
Both kids and adults take part in the championship, with winners crowned in each category after a knock-out contest. This year’s competitors are already lined-up to play, so if you’re hoping to have a crack you’ll need to ready yourself for when next year’s entries are open.
But whether you’re taking part or not, there’s plenty of fun entertainment to keep you amused. This year there’ll be the usual opening ceremony by the King Conker and Town Cryer, as well as children’s rides and pub games. Plus, there’ll be a guide dog demonstration, Morris dancing, a ukulele band, living history encampment and a juggling workshop. And beer.
This quirky and competitive event has been going since 1965, when some disappointed pub regulars couldn’t go on a fishing trip. Instead, they decided to have a game of conkers on Ashton village green, which is surrounded by horse chestnut trees.
Conkers, costumes and crowns
Today, the event is staged nearby in Southwick of course. And the game has developed into a full-on championship, with rules and ceremony to match. For starters, you can’t rig the game with you own special conker as all conkers and laces for the championships are supplied by Ashton Conker Club. Each player gets three alternate strikes at the opponent’s conker. And the game’s decided when a conker is smashed.
Players usually stand on special podiums in an arena and often come dressed in appropriate attire (squirrels, bees and rabbits have previously taken part). Once a final winner has emerged, they get to sit on the Conker Thrown and wear a crown of, yes you guessed it, conkers!
Proceeds from the World Conker Championships go to charity. And since 1965, the event has raised £420,000 for good causes including RNIB, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Peterborough Talking Newspaper.
This year’s event aims to be COVID-19 safe with measures in place such as sanitising stations. Do keep a social distance while you’re there. Crowd numbers are being kept low to make this possible, so do get there early. There’ll be a one in and one out policy once they’re at capacity, so be prepared to wait. And of course, have fun!
For more quirky contests and championships, take a gander at these!
When: 10th October 2021, from 9.30am
Where: The Shuckburgh Arms, Southwick, near Oundle, Northamptonshire PE8 5BL
£: Admission for spectators costs £7 for adults, £5 for children and £15 for a family. Parking is free.