Judith Wibberley
Author & Crafter
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Local Customs
There are numerous unusual events and customs in the beautiful Devon countryside here are just some you might enjoy. Then again you could explore the Jurrasic Coast beaches where you can step back into history.
Ottery St Mary
Pixie Day is the day on which the Pixies can take their revenge on the town. This is an old tradition that takes place on a Saturday each June. The day commemorates the age old legend of Ottery St. Mary's infamous 'Pixies' being banished from the town (where they caused havoc) to the local caves know as 'Pixie's Parlour'.
The Flaming Tar Barrels of Ottery St Mary on 5th November is said to date back to the 17th century. In the weeks prior to the day of the event the barrels are soaked with tar, they are lit outside each of the pubs in turn and once the flames begin to pour out, they are hoisted up onto local people's backs and shoulders. The streets and alleys around the pubs are packed with people, all eager to feel the lick of the barrels flame. One of the biggest bonfires in the South West is ignited on the banks of the River Otter and behind it are the flashing neon of the annual fun fair. 
Westward Ho! Hosts the famous Pot Walloping Festival in May. It dates back to the 1800s when local people ventured down to the beach to throw back pebbles that had fallen from the ridge during the winter storms. This is still performed today, but has developed into a larger event with displays, local crafts, stalls and entertainment.
Blackawton Home of the Worm Charming Festival, in May. Worm Charmers have to 'charm' or find as many worms as possible, in an allotted section of ground within the time limit. A liquid solution (often beer) may be used to aid the ‘charming’. Rules include: The charmer must sample his/her solution to ensure that no toxic chemicals are used; The British Association of Worm Length Supporters BAWLS state that all worms are to be returned to the soil after the contest, preferably in the same hole from which they were charmed.
Combe Martin The Hunting of the Earl of Rone in May. A strange English tradition which involves the search for, and dispatching of, the imaginary Earl of Rone. The origins of this peculiar activity are murky but legend has it that a real Earl of Rone, fleeing Ireland four centuries ago, was shipwrecked on the beach of Combe Martin and later found in a nearby forest. A traitor to Ireland, the Earl became a local hero and the festival celebrates the heroism of his flight.
Marldon An old traditional village fete with a donkey cart pulling a big apple pie around the village the Marldon Apple Pie Fairon the last Saturday in July also includes side shows, crowning of Apple Pie princess and a big family dog show. Its origin is as an annual show and sports day, started in 1888 and held every September. Mr George Hill, whose family still live in Marldon, travelled to the weekly market at St Mary Church on his donkey with panniers of apples. On the day of the St Mary Church annual Fair, George drove a cart carrying a huge apple pie, pulled by two donkeys. A large apple pie is still baked and carried to Jubilee meadow.
Widecombe The famous Widecombe Fair in September gave rise to the well-known folksong 'Widecombe Fair' and the characters of Uncle Tom Cobley and All. Widecombe is a picturesque village which nestles in the heart of Dartmoor National Park. The fair offers horsemanship to hounds, show jumping to sheep, vintage tractors to pasties.
Tavistock  Dry stone walling and thatching and, not to be missed, Tom Cobley Novelty Race. The annual Tavistock Goose Fair dates back to the 12th Century, when farmers brought their geese for sale, and drove them through the streets to the Market. The fair attracts market traders and showmen from all over the Country and includes stalls and side-shows.

The Jurrasic Coast Visit beautiful Lyme Bay, the beaches of Sidmouth, Branscombe, Beer and Seaton.  Go to famous Lyme Regis or Charmouth in neighbouring Dorset. Charmouth has a visitor's centre not to be missed if you want to learn about fossils or go looking for them on the beaches.

Judith Wibberley

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