2013-10-09   facebook twitter rss

Conker Competition at the Heart of Harvest Celebrations

Conkers will be smashed, apples will be pressed and all manner of fruit and veg will be pickled and preserved when Bowlees Visitor Centre celebrates the fruits of the season during a day of autumn celebrations on Saturday October 19.

At the heart of Harvest Time will be the first Big Bowlees Conker Competition and children young and old are being encouraged to take part in the traditional autumn game for the glory of the contest’s first ever trophy. Bakers and preserve makers are also being encouraged to enter their best efforts to be judged by Jon Dunn of Café 1618@Bowlees.

Group enjoying Bowlees Visitor Centre

Group enjoying Bowlees Visitor Centre

Sarah Kelly, Development Officer at the Upper Dale visitor centre which is run by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, said: “In recent years the game of conkers seems to have fallen by the wayside but we have so many strewn around the area that we really should be making the most of them.

“People who we’ve mentioned the competition to are already recalling their days as school conker champions. We’d love to get people of all ages taking part but we really want to reintroduce the game to younger players.”

While potential conker kings and queens take well-aimed swipes at each other outside the centre which opened in June, there will be more competition opportunities indoors.

To make the most of the North Pennine hedgerows (while making sure to leave enough for the birds) there will be a jam and marmalade making competition. Potential preservationists are being asked to enter their winning recipes which will be judged by Jon Dunn, who runs Cafe1618@Bowlees from the centre. Entries need to be at Bowlees for 11am.

To accompany the scrumptious spreads, bakers are also being asked to enter their best hand made wholemeal loaf in a bread making contest. And to ensure the perfect jam buttie is created, Jon will be giving a butter churning demonstration where people will be able to have a go at making their own golden wonder.

People will also be able to participate is an autumn-themed recipe swap. There’ll be a display where visitors can add their harvest recipes and copy others.
Staff at the centre are also appealing to local growers to donate their surplus apple windfall to use in a new press and visitors can also bring their own to turn into juice.

Sarah said: “Autumn is a beautiful time of the year and what better place to celebrate it than in the heart of the countryside? We’ve had such a good summer and we’re seeing the benefits of it in our trees and hedgerows, which are bursting with plump, ripe fruits.

“We’re asking anyone with surplus apples to bring them in to us so we can make freshly-pressed juice and let people have a go at making their own and it’s a great way of making sure they don’t go to waste. And we hope plenty of people will bring their bread and jam in for our competition. And with all the autumn crafts going on we should have a really fun day.”

Children’s craft activities will take place all day and fallen leaves and pine cones are being collected from the grounds around the centre and will be used throughout Harvest Time to make some seasonal artwork.

There will also be advice on using harvest from the hedgerows and a pickling master class with Simon Wilson.

Jam and bread makers can bring their produce along to Bowlees Visitor Centre from 9am until 11 on Saturday, October 19. A handmade wholemeal loaf, fruit jam or marmalade can be entered. The Great Bowlees Conker Competition will begin at 12.30pm and the trophy will be awarded as soon as the last conker is smashed.

Anyone with any spare windfall apples can drop them off at Bowlees Visitor Centre, which is open seven days a week from 9am until 6pm or call the centre on 01833 622145 to arrange a collection (if possible) or email simon@northpenninesaonb.org.uk

North Pennines

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