Chapel Street, Blackawton, Totnes, Devon

May Bank Holiday (the first Monday in the month of May) is the time of year when visitors and those just passing through the village of Blackawton will witness quite a bizarre spectacle. Now in its second decade, the Blackawton International Festival of Wormcharming is an event that will strike horror into the hearts of those with an aversion to all things 'creepy-crawlie'. Not to be confused with similar events held 'up North' where the rules are quite different, the festival at The Normandy Arms is British eccentricity at its finest.

Teams consist of a 'Charmer', 'Catcher' and a 'Counter'. The area that is to be charmed by each team is a maximum of 3ft x 4ft and is referred to as 'The Plot'. The alloted time is 15 minutes per team and the Charmer uses a solution to dampen the soil. Another act called 'twanging' involves hand vibrating a garden fork into the turf.

The British Association of Worm Length Supporters (BAWLS) decree that all worms have to be returned to the ground at the end of a contest when the team having charmed the greatest number of worms in the alloted time is the winner. It is on record that in 1980, at another competition, someone once charmed 511 worms from their slumber to see what all the commotion was about!