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The 12th annual Watercress Festival has taken place in the Hampshire town of Alresford at the weekend and was met with an audience of thousands of watercress lovers.

Watercress is one of the county’s most iconic crops and visitors on Hampshire self-catering cottage holidays find it hard to resist taking some home, but the salad staple is celebrated every year with a host of events, including the famed watercress-eating world championships.

“It’s been far busier than previous years”

One of the event’s organisers described the Festival that took place on the 17th May as “far busier than previous years,” as reported here. Live music, morris dancing, face painting, fairground rides and cookery demonstrations, as well as some 140 stalls selling locally sourced produce, all helped make the event a huge success. Watercress was certainly the theme, with products on sale including watercress fudge and watercress soap, as well as watercress wine and beer!

Also popular with locals and those staying in nearby family-friendly English country cottages was the famed watercress-eating world championships, where the crown went to Alresford resident Glenn Walsh, who managed to finish his bag of watercress in a time of 46.59 seconds. This gave him his fifth winning title and knocked several seconds off of last year’s winning time, which was secured by fellow Alresford resident and rugby player Sam Batho. Of his win, Walsh said, “It’s great to be a world record holder – it all started off a little bit of fun but being rugby boys we love a bit of competition. I just love it.”

This year’s event also included Festival Awards for some of the best local producers and chef demonstrations, where superior cooks showed what unusual things can be achieved with this humble leafy plant. Organisers have high hopes again for next year as the festival goes from strength to strength each year.

To keep in the know with all the latest updates and festival planning, visit the Watercress Festival website.