Did you know that there was a festival in the UK where they chase a big ball of cheese down a hill? Well believe it or not this actually exists and if you want to see something different this year then why not head down to Gloucester in England to watch some brave souls seeking to be victorious as they look to catch the rolling cheese in one of the weirdest festivals in the World. Let’s take a look at how the Cooper Hill Cheese Festival came to being at what it comprises of.
There are 2 arguments for how the event originated, the first is that it was a battle between farmers that took place each year on Whit Monday to see how would have grazing rights of the common for the summer. The second notion is that it was related to the Pagan tradition of rolling wood down the hill to celebrate the end of the winter, they also used to scatter biscuits and fruit from the top of the hill as part of the ceremony and some think that the cheese was the symbolism of this.
The format of the modern day cheese rolling festival is that a 9lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of the hill and the competitors head off after it. Crowds line the sides of the hill and cheer the competitors on. The winner is not the person who catches the cheese as many think, but the first person to cross the finish line at the bottom, the victor will win the round of cheese. The cheese has the ability to reach speeds of up to 70km per hour so catching it is near impossible. There are two pubs close to the hill where competitors and visitors gather before the event to load up on a little courage before they face the tiresome climbing of the hill and then the treacherous race back down.
This is actually an incredibly dangerous festival as the hill is extremely steep, whilst it can be humorous for onlookers to watch human bodies tumble down the hill in search of cheese, many sustain injuries that can be serious. Each year the St John’s Ambulance service will head to the event to treat injuries that are sustained from tumbling down the steep and uneven hill.
How to See it?
If you are up for competing in this zany event or if you wish to watch it then you need to head to Brockworth in Gloucestershire on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday. The event still runs each year despite much backlash from councils who suggest that the dangers are not worth keeping up the tradition. Despite the backlash there has actually been a ‘Save the Cheese’ campaign which has been very successful. An entry fee was introduced in 2011 but quickly scrapped after many complaints from locals. This is a tradition that doesn’t look as though it is going anywhere soon so get yourself to Chase Hill this year and watch one of the weirdest festivals in the World.