Wigan's World Pie-Eating Championships cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic

Wigan’s famous World Pie-Eating Championships have bitten the crust ... sorry dust.

The renowned scran fest which has received international media coverage in the past has, for the second year running, become the latest victim of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However organisers have held out hope that, like the summer just gone’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, it might be rescheduled for some point next year.

Hide Ad

The championships, held annually at Harry’s Bar on Wallgate, have become a favourite fixture in the pre-Christmas but not so sporting schedule, and it means that reigning 2019 champion Ian Gerard will be holding on to his title for at least several months more.

The most-recent winner of the World Pie Eating Championships, Martin Gerard
Read More
Wigan musicians record Band Aid classic Do They Know It's Christmas? to help mak...

The main sticking point appears to be the conflict between putting food in the mouth - the contest involves the devouring of one pie in the shortest possible time - and wearing a mask!

Hide Ad

Organiser and piemaster Tony Callaghan said: “Having to wear a mask during the competition itself, but not before or after, has proven to be a fundamental hurdle.

“No mask is required in a hospitality setting, but masks are legally required in an indoor sports stadium. Any other elite sport would find a way of getting round pandemic restrictions, but we’ve been gagged.

Hide Ad
Action from a previous World Pie Eating Championships in Wigan

“We looked at staging the event outside on the pavement, but there’d be 30-odd lads and lasses and their coaches - in some cases 38-seaters - and some of these lads are big units, meaning they could easily be mistaken for traffic islands if caught in the wrong light through a rainy windscreen.

Hide Ad

“Pandemic rules mean that competitors can have a pint and a bag of pork scratchings pre-event, but as soon as they enter the competition arena up back’t bar area they have to wear a mask.

“Government guidelines are gobble-degook. Or gobble-avoidance-degook. There is an argument that the actual competitors in indoor sports don’t have to wear masks, but Government guidelines make no reference to that. And if people like Lewis Hamilton have to wear a face covering during competition, then that’s all the guidance we needed.

Hide Ad

“The technical members of the organising committee experimented with things like pureed pie, angled straws and funnels, as well as those things plumbers use to seal the gap between bath and wall tiles, to allow pie consumption while still wearing a mask but there wasn’t an elegant solution resulting in less than half-an-hour to consume a pie when we’d be expecting around 30 seconds in a sporting environment. This event has always been a sprint not a marathon.

“As for staging a virtual event on Zoom this would have proved impractical because we don’t have enough plug holes or internet capacity in the pub for dozens of competitors to bring their computers in.”

Hide Ad

Mr Callaghan said that Harry’s Bar is now considered breaking with decades of tradition and staging the event away from its traditional mid-December fixture date.

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers.