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Saturday, 15 September, 2001, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Gurners go for gold
Peter Jackman
Champion Peter Jackman hopes to hold onto his title
Ugly mugs are taking part in the annual World Gurning Championships in Cumbria.

False teeth are optional for competitors who aim to make themselves as ugly as possible during the contest at Egremont Crab Fair.

Contestants put their heads through a horse collar and contort their faces into the most gruesome or daft expressions possible.

Reigning champion Peter Jackman is hoping to hold onto his title as the ugliest man in the world.

Toothless wonders

The competition has taken place at the Egremont Crab Fair since medieval times and attracts competitors from all over the world.


Crab apples are very bitter and when you eat something bitter your face contorts

Karen Clement, organiser
But it is not only the men who are planning to pull their faces - ladies and juniors can also flex their facial muscles in their own categories.

Karan Clement, who helps organise the annual event, said: "It's usually the older people who do best in the competition because their skin moves around more, a bit like your grandma.

"And it also helps if you don't have any teeth."

Fierce competiton

People living in the Cumbrian village have celebrated crab apple time since 1267 when King Henry III granted a Royal Charter for a weekly market and an annual crab fair.

The tradition of gurning has its roots in that day.

Mrs Clement said: "Crab apples are very bitter and when you eat something bitter your face contorts.

"That's how gurning started and gurning contests have been around ever since.

"The competiton is expected to be fierce as the 1999 winner Tommy Mattinson is competing to try and get his title back."

Other attractions include climbing up the greasy pole to try and get the leg of lamb nailed at the top.

Pipe smoking, Morris Dancers, street races and a fun fair will also keep10,000 expected visitors entertained.

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