Dorset Knob Throwing Contest 2011

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HURLED underarm, high in the air, bouncing on grass, shattering on impact. A shower of knobs is upon us. Knob shooting, knob painting, knob throwing…

…and, God help us, even a Knob Eating contest. The record stands at nine knobs eaten in the space of one minute. These manful munchers barely manage two apiece.

Cattistock village feels strangely medieval, as I’m chased by Cadbury, the Wessex Morris Men‘s hobby horse, to the ominous bang of the tabor.

Pointy multi-coloured gazebos cluster round the church, piled with cakes, cheeses, honey, cider, all produced by local artisans I never knew existed.

I’m salivating over samples from Woolsery Cheese from Up Sydling, L& C Game dealers of Buckland Newton – purveyors of such delights as unsmoked wild venison faggotts – and the Dorset Coffee Company at Duck Farm in Bockhampton. The man on the stall for Cherry Tree Preserves at North Mills has such a hilarious sales pitch that I take three slabs of Wessex mature cheddar home with me. I can’t resist fragrant, crumbly Dorset Apple Cake from A Piece of Cake , which operates out of Beaminster town hall kitchen, or a pyramid of brownies at Manna Organic of Crossways.

The Dorset Blue Soup Company of Sturminster Newton is selling its mouth-watering soups at least a quid cheaper than you’ll get them on the shelves of Waitrose. I make a mental note to check out Furleigh Estate in Salwayash which makes wine from grapes grown in Dorset, as well as Oxford’s Bakery of Sherborne. A friend recommends I try the wares of Cranborne Chase Cheese – won the Gold Cheese Championship last year for its heavenly melting brie. I have to buy one.

I have a lovely chat with the lady who’s recently transplanted Four Season Preserves into Askerswell. At the moment she’s got no kitchen and is battling to carry out 500 jar orders by ‘borrowing’ the Litton Cheney village hall on Sundays. What a food hero. I buy a jar of green tomato chutney (it’s half gone already!)

I discover Boasty’s Best, a company based in my home town of Weymouth, which grows salad in a field in Charminster. How lovely not to have to buy it from Asda and peel off reams of cling film.

And of course, no trip to the Cattistock Food Festival would be complete without a bag of Moore’s Dorset Knobs! Hoorah!

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