The Egremont Crab Fair

The Egremont Crab Fair, which is held in the small market town of Egremont situated on the West Cumbrian coast a few miles from the western fringe of the Lake District, is held on the third Saturday in September each year. This is thought to have originated during the medieval times, when the serfs to the Manor of Egremont, after harvesting – which normally ended in September, would gather their corn, vegetables, animals and wild fruit and then went to the Lord of the Manor to pay their dues. This was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the completion of harvesting and to forget about their poverty.

Thomas de Multon, Lord of the Barony of Egremont, was granted a Royal Charter in 1267 by King Henry III for an annual fair to be held on the 7th, 8th and 9th of September and a weekly market on Wednesdays. The traditional Crab fair has been held every year since 1267, except during the War years. However, the fair was reduced to a one day event as the industrialisation of Egremont meant that the townspeople had less leisure time.

The fair got it’s name from the Lord of Egremont, who started a tradition of giving away crab apples, this continues to this day with the “Parade of the Apple Cart”, where apples are still thrown to the people who line the main street. Today the fair starts with a number of sporting events, which includes an old traditional lakeland sport, Cumberland wrestling. Another tradition is the World Gurning Championship, where contestants have to pull ugly faces through a horse collar, which is known as gurnin through a braffin. This is a full day fair with many activities to suit the whole family.

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