FAIRYLAND GARDENERS’ AND WORT-RAISERS SOCIETY invites entries for the 2018 Fairyland Veg-o-Lantern competition
Entries must be in place by 4.30 pm Saturday, 3.30 pm Sunday.
Bring entries to the Good Elf Cafe and Pub
Real Prizes in each category – to be presented
at 5 pm Sat, 4 pm Sun
from the stage in the Performance Tent
Three categories: family; child (6-8yrs); child (8 – 12yrs)
Prizes: books, toys and more stuff
The Veg-o-Lantern Competition is unique event open only to visitors to The Real Halloween.
Here are some of the previous crop of root-veg and other assorted plant creations which caught the eye of the Judges:
Monster Swede – took First Prize
Fairy House – Second Prize
some other entries:
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.
Norfolk traveller sighting a Will o the Wisp on his way back from the pub
Simply create your own Veg-O-Lantern and bring it along to The Real Halloween before the deadline (see above).
The only real rules are 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. Only non-veg material allowed is Googly Eyes and wooden cocktail sticks. Extra points for use of Organic Veg and home-grown.
Pumpkins are reluctantly permitted but being a recent American import, they are not encouraged, and commercially grown shop-bought pumpkins are discouraged as they are often full of farm chemicals.
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 Good Elf (pub/cafe).
The Landlord of the Good Elf will present 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for the best creations in each category (timings above).
Points will be awarded for authenticity, creativity and inedibility.
Free to enter
Rules (FAIRYLAND GARDENERS’ AND WORT-RAISERS SOCIETY):
- Only British grown veg to be used
- Use only cocktail sticks and googly eyes as accessories
- Extra points for organic veg’
- All lanterns must have a hole or resting place for a tealight
Judging will begin about half an hour before the awarding (no bribes but donations welcome)
- 6 – 8 yrs old
- 8 – 12 yrs old
- Family entry
Safety: Adults please supervise cutting tools !
sample of Card (check for authenticity):
Scenes from recent Judgings:
History of the Competition
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 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 miner with candle on his hat (not recommended)
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 travelers 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 and on the Acle Straight on Fridays.