Contest axed amid mangold shortage
The annual staging of the traditional West Country sport of mangelwurzel hurling has been cancelled because of a lack of the key component - the mangold.
Organisers of the annual Mangold Hurl in the Wiltshire village of Sherston said they had been unable to get hold of any of the large muddy root vegetables and Sunday's competition had regrettably been called off.
The bizarre event sees hundreds of the beetroot-related mangold - normally used as fodder for cattle - thrown in a similar way to the French game of boules. This involves teams of three competing to see who can land their mangelwurzel nearest a large, leafless one, called a "Norman".
The competition has enjoyed a tongue-in-cheek renaissance in recent years with dozens of teams taking part. It is based upon the ancient pastime of farm labourers, who used the crop as pieces of sporting equipment.
Paul Ormiston, Keeper of the Challenges, said organisers might have to grow their own mangolds next year.
He added: "We couldn't get hold of any mangolds. One possibility is that they are not a common vegetable and the farmer we usually source them from didn't grow any. We are going to have to look a lot closer to home next year. It is a possibility we will grow our own but we will need quite a few of them.
"It's a shame. The contest was going to be on Sunday and it is usually well attended but alas we have had to cancel because of a lack of a vegetable."
Martin Rea, a Sherston parish councillor and one of the competition organisers, appealed for any farmers with a crop of mangolds to get in touch. They need between 300 and 400 for the event to go ahead.
He added: "We've had to call off Sunday's competition but if we can find a farmer with a crop we can always rearrange it for later in the year.
"I think we need to grow our own and we are looking for a piece of land. We need between 300 and 400 mangolds."