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Thursday, 11 June 2009

World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships 2009

If you think you can survive a tongue lashing join the locals in the small Dorset village pub 'The Bottle Inn' Marshwood, near Bridport, Dorset. on June 13th. Here, brave contestants compete to be the one capable of scoffing the most stinging nettles.

The craze started in 1986, when two Dorset farmers had exhausted their regular topics and after a few moments of awkward silence in the pub one evening, Giles shifted uncomfortably in his seat and grunted, 'I bet my stinging nettles are longer than yours'. 'What?' replied Farmer Joe with an incredulous look on his face. A deathly silence fell across the pub, the other drinkers could sense the air of excitement. A challenge was laid down and the pub established a Longest Nettle Night.

One day, a young upstart barged in on Longest Nettle Night wielding a nettle over 15 feet in length and boldly claimed that if anyone could beat his feat, he would eat his nettle. His misplaced confidence left him a little shamed as a holidaying American couple subsequently produced a longer nettle. True to his word, the man gobbled up his nettle and the World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships were born.

Today, the Championships form part of the weekend Beer Festival held annually at the Bottle Inn between Dorchester and Exeter and attract contestants and spectators from all over Europe. The Beer Festival includes 30 West Country Cask Ales, Live Folk Music and a Barbeque Hog Roast but the highlight is undoubtedly the nettle eating which kicks off early on Saturday evening. Around 50 challengers, equipped with nothing more than their teeth and a brave smile, have one hour to eat as many leaves from a two foot long nettle as possible. The winner is the person with the longest length of empty stalk. Thank goodness for dock leaves.

The weekend is also a celebration of the Summer Solstice and handy fields nearby the Bottle Inn have been set aside to welcome happy campers. The cost is £5 per tent or van and visitors are welcome from Friday night.

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