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The Egremont Crab Fair - Home of The Weird English Tradition of Gurning

A Traditional Fair With Weird and Wonderful Traditional English Entertainments

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Gurner at Egremont

Tommy Mattinson many-time winner of Gurning World Championship at the Crab Apple Fair in Egremont, Cumbria

John Li/Getty Images
  • What: A traditional country fair with old fashioned entertainments and a gurning competition - a prime example of Weird English traditions
  • When: Third Saturday in September
  • Where: Egremont in Cumbria
  • Admission: Most events are free, some small admission charges
  • Website

Gurning - A Weird English Tradition at the Egremont Crab Fair

The Egremont Crab Fair - one of England's weirder events - gets its name from crab apples rather than the marine variety. It started back in the 13th century when the Lord of the Manor gave away crab apples to the populace. In fact, to this day, the Parade of the Apple Cart, where apples are thrown into the crowds on the Main Street, is part of the fair.

There are a host of other non-mechanized, traditional events - greasy pole climbing, a pipe smoking contests, a talent show, Cumberland wrestling, a hounds trail. But lets face it, the reason Egremont makes the news every year is the gurning competition.

Home of the Gurning World Championships

Gurning, involves a rubber-faced skill that is totally bizarre and unique to this part of England. Contestants put their heads through horse collar or braffin while they create the ugliest, most grotesque faces they can manage. A certain amount of skill is involved but a lot of beer and a certain amount of toothlessness probably has an impact as well. Celebrities occasionally have a go and the national news usually features the winning gurners.

If you are in Cumbria visiting the Lake District, nearby, in September, stop in at the Egremont Crab Fair. You won't see anything like this anywhere else and you won't soon forget it.

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