It seems the highlight at the 2007 Tweed Valley Forest Festival – only the second to be held, following a successful pilot in 2006 – was the inaugural Scottish Conker Championship.
There was a certain amount of hype before the event, with The Scotsman reporting that the organisers were urging Edinburghers to journey down to Peebles to take part. Needless to say, the story provoked a good deal of cynicism among readers who commented on the web version, mostly along the lines that the game (sport?) was being killed off by safety fears, playground bans and Euro directives on the permitted size, shape and baking of conkers.
A more substantial threat was posed by the lack of suitable conkers, with many local horse chestnut trees being struck by a mystery disease. The problem was so bad that organisers put out a Borders-wide appeal for 500 conkers to be collected:
In the end, though, the Forest Festival (held from 24-28 October) seems to have been a success, and the conker championship was a hit [sorry]. But there was very little fanfare in the press surrounding Scotland’s new champion, 48-year-old Fiona Griggs of Cardrona, who beat off 50 other challengers to win the title. The Southern Reporter barely even mentioned her in its report. So it was left to the BBC to step into the breach and interview the victorious Mrs Griggs:
Odd that the papers shouldn’t have picked up on the story. You’d have thought it was the kind of soft news story the local press and the tabloids thrive on.