Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Gloucestershire
Held in the village of Brockworth in Gloucestershire, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake is held on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday each year. In 2020 it was scheduled for 25 May. Unfortunately due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 cheese rolling races are cancelled, although a cheese will be rolled down the hill on 25 May in keeping with tradition.
What started off as a local tradition has become an international event, drawing thousands of people from around the world. Previous winners have come from New Zealand, the US, Australia and Nepal.
Cheese Rolling Race
A round of Double Gloucester cheese weighing 3 to 4 kilos (or 7 to 9 pounds) is rolled down the steep Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, pursued by the competitors. The aim is to catch the cheese, but as the round can reach speeds up to 70 mph, this is most unlikely.
In 2013, Australian Caleb Stalder caught a cheese made of lightweight foam that had been introduced for safety reasons.
The winner is the first person over the finishing line.
In 2019 there were five cheese rolling races, including one for women, which was won by Flo Early, her fourth victory, making her the most successful female cheese rolling chaser. The male record stands with Chris Anderson who has won the race 22 times, although he did not compete in 2019 following his retirement from the event.
After the race competitors generally retire to the Cross Hands and Victoria pubs in Brockworth.
Origins of the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival
Initially the cheese rolling festival took place on Whit Monday. Its origins are disputed. Some claim it was commenced to maintain a right to graze on common land. Others say its origins are more pagan. It’s possible that it stems from people rolling burning brushwood down the hill to represent the start of the new year.
Whatever its origins, the first recorded cheese rolling in Gloucestershire was in 1826, although the tradition clearly predated it.
The cheese is decorated with ribbons and supplied by Diana Smart, a local cheesemaker, and her son Rod, as it has since 1988.
When is the Cheese Rolling 2021?
The races will be on 31 May, with the first race commencing at noon. Organisers suggest you arrive by 10am.
Cooper’s Hill Safety Concerns
The cheese rolling chase is not for the fainthearted; many people are injured each year, due to the steepness of Cooper’s Hill. Several times the cheese rolling races have been cancelled due to injuries, although on those occasions a cheese has been rolled down the hill in order to preserve grazing rights.
First Aid is provided by St John’s Ambulance, and there are several catchers from the local rugby club and young farmers.
If you think this is crazy then why not try bog snorkelling in Wales?
Other Cheese Rolling Events
Since 2002 there has been a cheese rolling competition in Chester. The circuit here is more flat with no injuries reported since 2006.
For further information on Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling
Mark Bibby Jackson
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