Caught by the River

Crab Fair

9th September 2008

Egremont Crab Fair, Cumberland

Since 1267 a Crab Fair has been held in the old mining town of Egremont, Cumberland at Michaelmas. It takes its name from the small, hard, sour crab apples traditionally distributed to the villagers by the lord of the manor, for which people had to ‘scrabble’ as he threw them from his horse. Originally he had scattered money … The fair is known also for traditional sports, such as street races, Cumberland wrestling, cycling races, terrier racing, hound trails and climbing the greasy pole, which is erected in the main street. In the evening there are contests for the best sentimental, comic and hunting songs, and a pipe-smoking match. The most bizarre event, surely linked to the sourness of the crab apple, is the annual World Champion Gurning Competition held in the Market Hall … Competitors have to put their heads through a braffin, or horse collar, and pull ‘the ugliest face possible’, wrote Norman Nicholson. (From ‘Crab Fair’)

common ground
egremont crab fair