Veg-o-Lantern Competition

veg o lantern banner 2016 white background

FAIRYLAND GARDENERS’ AND WORT-RAISERS SOCIETY invites entries for the 2016 Fairyland Veg-o-Lantern competition

Entries must be in place by 4pm Saturday, 3pm Sunday (close-by the Information Point).    Real Prizes (1st 2nd 3rd) in each category at 4pm Sat, 3pm Sun


Make your own family or individual (6 – 12 yrs) Veg-o-Lantern and win a prize.

Prizes: books, toys and more stuff – for details see this message from Sticky, Toffee and Pudding

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The Veg-o-Lantern Competition is unique event open only to visitors to The Real Halloween.


Veg-o-lantern

Here are some of the previous crop of root-veg and other assorted plant creations which caught the eye of the Judges:

first prize monster swede

Monster Swede – took First Prize

second prize Fairy House – Second Prize

some other entries:

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The Veg-o-Lantern competition helps re-kindle the ancient British folk tradition of Jack-O-Lanterns (Will o’ The Whisps and all that – see more below). Long before pumpkins were imported to Britain from America, people used to carve root vegetables like turnips to make Jack-o-Lanterns to place in their windows at night in order to keep away mischievous spirits.  In Cornwall they were associated with the Pixies.  In East Anglia they were common in areas like the Fens and the Broads, where Will O’The Wisps were mysterious lights seen gliding above marshes.

will o wisp

Norfolk traveller sighting a Will o the Wisp on his way back from the pub

Simply create your own family or junior (6 – 12 yrs old) Veg-O-Lantern and bring it along in the morning, to the Crab Apple Cafe.

The only real rule is that you should use a British root or garden vegetable (eg swede, turnip, marrow, magle-worzel, parsnip, large potato with eyes, etc) and attach accessories (limbs, noses, ears, hair etc) to taste.

Pumpkins are permitted but being a recent American import, they are not encouraged.

no pumpkins

Pumpkins are not encouraged

Make a space for a tea light in your Veg o Lantern but it does not need to be lit.

When you arrive, make sure you pick up a category sticker from the Information Point.  Entries must be in place by 4pm Saturday, 3pm Sunday.

The Landlord of the Good Elf will present 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for the best creations in each category at 4pm on Saturday,  3pm on Sunday.  (It all happens close-by the Information Point on the Main Lawn near the Great Oak).  See prizes and more here.

Points will be awarded for authenticity, creativity and inedibility.

Free

Rules (FAIRYLAND GARDENERS’ AND WORT-RAISERS SOCIETY):

  1. Only British grown veg to be used
  2. Use only cocktail sticks and googly eyes as accessories
  3. Extra points for organic veg’
  4. All lanterns must have a hole or resting place for a tealight

Judging will begin about 3pm and the results will be announced at 4pm (no bribes but donations welcome)

Categories:

  • 6 – 12 yrs old
  • Family entry

Safety:  Adults please supervise cutting tools !

sample of Card (check for authenticity):

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Scenes from recent Judgings:

judging

judge dubious

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History of the Competition

Ethel Brassica Spofforth judge

Little is known about the origins of the Veg o Lantern competition as much remains classified under the Fairyland 3,000 Year Rule but Judging is hereditary and passed down either the male or female line depending on who has the greenest fingers.   The photograph above shows Ethel ‘Brassicas’ Spofforth, on her way to the Avebury Judging in 1932.  Ethel was Head Judge from 1929 until 1943 when a virulent outbreak of Cabbage White Butterflies made it impractical for her to continue.

Un-authorised accounts have it that the origins of ‘Jack o Lanterns’ lie with the Cornish Pixies, themselves traditionally associated with tin mining. ‘Joan the Wad’ is celebrated in Cornwall, for example at the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft, and was Queen of the Pixies.  ‘Wad’ means torch and she was believed to light the way.  Her husband Jack o Lantern was King of the Pixies.  Accounts are divided as to whether they help strangers find their way or lead them astray. Perhaps it depends on how they are feeling or how nice people are to them.  In Devon Pixies are regarded as friendly and harmless.

Cornish tin mining is also strongly associated with magical folk, possibly linking to Pixies.  ‘Knockers‘ were magical beings known to who sound warning knocks to miners before a section of roof gave way.  Accordingly Cornish tin miners, who invented the Cornish Pasty as a way of taking food underground without needing excessive packaging, used to leave the last bit behind to feed the Knockers, or possibly Pixies.

knockers pasties

Knockers Pasties for Cornish Tin Miners

Cornish miners carried lamps to find their way underground and until the invention of the Safety Lamp by Sir Humphry Davy in 1815, these were candle stubs attached to felt hats, which posed a constant risk of explosions from mine gas.

cornish tin miner

Cornish miner with candle on his hat (not recommended)

cornish tin pixies

In Eastern England and other areas ‘Will of the Wisp‘ is also known as ‘Fools Fire’, and some say the term “will-o’-the-wisp”  simply comes from a “wisp”, or bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch.  Glowing orbs of light or flickering flames over bogs and marshes are widely thought to be a result of burning marsh gas such as methane: lights you would be a fool to follow.  However in Devon and Cornwall they are also known as Pixie Lights and in some cases are believed to lead travellers to hidden treasure, possibly mined by Pixies.  In East Anglia the lights are known as The Lantern Man, and caused particular problems around the Broads.

 

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