Peter Brown, 60, lives in Llanwrtyd, Wales, in the county of Powys, where he has a pub, the Stonecroft Inn. He is also the organizer of the 2012 World Alternative Games, which will be held in his village.
Q: OK, how do you say where you live? “Lan-word-did”?
Q: What does your part of Wales look like?
It’s brilliant: one of the most unexplored parts of Wales, with rolling hills, streams and rivers – smack bang in the belly button of Wales. It can be wet at times, but when the sun shines it’s one of the best parts of Britain.
You get here by road or train. It’s about four hours from London, but there are airports at Bristol and Cardiff. Manchester is only three hours away.
It’s very sparsely populated: Less than 700 people live here, generally working in forestry or farming. There’s a small business in town that employs about 30.
I live in the pub. It’s very traditional – a black and white building that’s long and narrow and is about 100 years old. It’s typical Old-y World-y, selling traditional beers.
Q: You’re the chairman of the World Alternative Games. And they are…?
We’ve always been known for crazy events in town – bog snorkeling, man vs. horse races – and we were just talking about so many of these kinds of events, and how little of (Britain’s) 2012 Olympic games are coming to Wales. We thought we would bring as many fun, quirky outdoor events down to us for our own games.
We got a good reaction to this in town, though some are obviously worried about the number of people who may come down for the events. We got a good reaction from the Wales Tourist Board and Welsh government TV. We’re starting to get presenters (TV announcers) wanting to come down here. There are companies wanting to do little bits about the events.
Q: What are the usual “crazy events”?
The man-vs.-horse race is usually in June; bog snorkeling is in August. The bog snorkeling will pretty much remain in the same time slot. The games begin Friday, the 17th of August, and finish Sunday, the 2nd of September. It’s basically the gap between the London Olympics and the Paralympics.
We will have something like 30 different events: chariot racing, beer-barrel rolling, bath-tubbing, downhill mountain board championships, wife-carrying, stone-skimming, wool-sack carrying, backwards running, worm charming plus more. Such as gravy wrestling.
It’s where people race in old bathtubs around a course. It’s on water. They’ll be doing this probably down at a local lake, Abernant Lake.
Q: Worm charming?
Competitors try to get as many worms as they can out of a 3-meter square of a grassed area, using only a fork. They have 30 minutes to do this. The world record is well over 500. It was set in Nantwich, right over the border in Cheshire.
They dig their fork around in the dirt, but are not allowed to turn the surface over. That and stomping your feet attract the worms to the surface. The worms are put in a suitable container and not released until after dark, because the birds might eat them. We think of everything, you see.
The oldest event here is probably the man-vs-horse; that goes back 30 years. We’ve had something like 500 runners and up to 50 horses.
Q: Do horses always win?
Nearly always. But a man has won three times.
We’re trying in these event to promote the spirit – that taking part is more important than winning. However there will be gold, silver and bronze medals.
Q. Welshmen have been famous archers since the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. No longbow events?
Too dangerous. Not quirky enough, really. Anybody can have a go at this.