Held annually in Egremont since it was chartered in 1267, the Crabapple Fair is one of Britain’s oldest festivals. It is famous for a number of traditions, including the distribution of free crabapples from a lorry that tours the village soon after noon. In recent years, common eating apples have been thrown to the crowds instead of the formerly used wild crabs.
The fair begins at dawn, when a 30-foot-high greased pole is erected in the main street of town. In the past, the prize for anyone who could scale the pole (which is impossible without the help of a human ladder) was half a sheep’s carcass at the top. Today, climbers work for a pound note instead. Other morning activities include children’s games, a scrimmage for coppers, and street races.
In the afternoon, there are more games, wrestling and terrier racing. The most unique events take place in the evening. The first competition is a pipe-smoking contest to see who can keep a pipe burning longest without relighting. There is a contest for the best sentimental and best hunting songs. The main attraction is the World Champion Gurning Competition. This odd (and very old) competition involves putting one’s head through a horse collar and making the most grotesque face possible. The championship is usually won by the individual who can take out his teeth and curl his lower lip upwards touching the nose.