Third annual worm charming championships sees winners wiggle to victory

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We’ve all heard of snake charmers playing woodwind instruments to lure reptiles out of baskets – but how about charming worms out of the ground?

The third annual Falmouth Worm Charming Championships was held in Cornwall on Sunday which saw hundreds of worms enticed up to the surface.

The skill is also known as worm grunting or worm fiddling. As a profession it’s now very rare, with the technique passed down through the generations, Cornwall Live reports.

In nature worms come to the surface when they can feel the vibrations of raindrops hitting the ground.

Birds imitate this by pecking at the ground or stamping their feet – but humans have a variety of methods including playing instruments, banging garden forks, dancing vigorously, or by simply asking very politely for the worms to surface.

This year competitors managed to charm 260 worms out of the ground – a massive increase on last year, which was held during a heatwave and only saw one solitary worm reach the surface.

Teams are given a two-metre square plot of grass to charm worms out within 30 minutes, without digging or using mechanical tools.

Some techniques used during this year’s competition include praying to the worm gods, writing a love letter to the worms, playing the didgeridoo, and blowing into vuvuzelas.

The event, which received Arts Council and Feast funding this year, proved a major attraction with worm portraits, worm tattoos, merchandise on offer and a brass band entertaining crowds.

This year’s winning team charmed 20 worms in half an hour – but they’re far behind the current world record.

That achievement was set by 10-year-old Sophie Smith in 2009 who charmed 567 worms during Britain’s World Worm Charming Championship.

The motto of this year’s event was ‘charm, don’t harm’, with organisers reminding participants that worms are living creatures and they shouldn’t be pulled out of the ground or otherwise injured.

And while the day certainly seemed fun, if chaotic, for humans, I can only assume the worms are already bracing themselves for next year’s event.

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