He’s done it again! The unassailable Glenn Walsh ate a bag of watercress in a time of just 31 seconds on Sunday to win the World Watercress Eating Championships for a 15th consecutive year.
But it was a close-run thing. Lining up alongside his long-time rival Sam Batho, the duo were separated by less than a second as they chomped through an 80g bag of watercress, cheered on by a vast crowd at the Alresford Watercress Festival.
Glenn just beat his own record of 25.5 seconds set in 2022, complaining afterwards of a particularly peppery crop.
The festival, held annually in the picturesque Hampshire market town, celebrated its 2023 edition with a day filled with culinary delights and watercress-themed festivities.
Renowned restaurateur Mark Hix and 2022 MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Charlie Jeffreys were on hand to crown the 2023 Watercress King and Queen, who were then adorned with genuine watercress crowns.
The royal couple then took part in a delightful tradition, throwing freshly-harvested watercress from a horse-drawn cart as it made its way up Broad Street. The procession was joined by troops of Morris Men, marching bands, and enthusiastic school children.
The festival offered a variety of activities throughout the day, including cookery demonstrations by popular local chefs, as well as appearances by Mark Hix, Charlie Jeffreys, and TV chef and Saturday Kitchen regular Lesley Waters.
In between the demonstrations, visitors had the opportunity to learn about the numerous health benefits of watercress from The Watercress Company’s managing director Tom Amery.
And Mark Hix also auctioned off his dishes to the highest bidders, all in aid of Abby’s Heroes, a local children’s cancer charity and the festival’s official charity.
Strolling through the streets, visitors were treated to more than 100 stalls offering a wide range of food and drink infused with watercress, from watercress burgers and sausages to watercress fudge, ice cream, beer and gin.
Arts and crafts stalls and a new vintage fair catered to those seeking retail therapy.
The food products entered for Barter’s Best, a competition recognising the most innovative use of watercress in food, created an enticing display. The winners of the competition were announced in the afternoon and received their prizes from Mark Hix.
Music filled the air throughout the day, with bands, choirs and entertainers taking to the stage to provide lively performances, and there was no shortage of entertainment to keep the little ones occupied.
For those seeking a touch of nostalgia, the Watercress Line, a vintage steam train, offered stylish transportation to the festival. The train was aptly named for its historical role in transporting watercress from Alresford to London during the heyday of the Victorian era.