EXCITEMENT is building for the return of the world-famous nettle eating competition this weekend - with the winner invited to participate in a TV talent show in Italy.

The World Nettle Eating Competition was an annual tradition which took place every summer at The Bottle Inn, in Marshwood - attracting world-wide attention.

However, The Bottle Inn, a 16th century pub, has been closed and sitting empty since 2020 and the World Nettle Eating Competition has not taken place since the last competition in 2019.

From 1996, The Bottle Inn hosted the annual World Nettle Eating Championships as part of a charity beer festival. Competitors were served 2-foot (0.61 m) long stalks of stinging nettles from which they plucked and ate the leaves. After an hour the bare stalks were measured and the winner named was the competitor with the greatest accumulated length of nettles.

In an attempt to keep the quirky local tradition alive, Dorset Nectar Cider Farm, on Pineapple Lane, Waytown, announced that it would protect this public event, by hosting a similar Nettle Eating Contest this Saturday, June 25, at its farm.

Penny Strong of the Dorset Nectar Company said she was delighted to receive some 'very exciting enquiries' from a popular Italian talent show which is offering an invitation to the overall World Nettle Eating Champion, to travel to Rome to participate in the Tu Si Que Vales TV Talent show - she added that there is also the possibility that the invitation also extends to some of the other contestants involved.

Penny Strong of the Dorset Nectar Company said: "We're all very excited and we're calling all nettle eaters from Bridport and beyond to come join us on the day.

"There will be two specific contests, as done previously. There will be a male contest and there will be a female contest. And, there will be cups, very beautiful fancy cups, for each winner.

"We would very much appreciated if people wanting to compete could call up if they can and let us know if they're interested. It just helps us ensure that we have enough nettles for everyone on the day." Mrs Strong revealed that former champions have already rang up the farm very interested to take part again in attempts to retain or reclaim their title.

​​When asked if she felt it was important to protect these more eccentric and unique local competitions, Mrs Strong said: ""Absolutely. It's what makes life fun and interesting."

Mrs Strong said she was unsure if they could host the competition again next year but said they 'would really love to be able to do it again if they can'.

The farm opens for the event from 3pm with the contest starting at 4.30pm, there will also be authentic Mexican food, local ciders and craft beers and live music from Shelby's Elbows and Bug Tree Swamp.

The nettle eating competition dates back to the 1980s when two farmers contested as to who grew the longest stinging nettle. When the winning farmer produced a 15-foot long nettle, the loser had to eat all the leaves from his stalk.

The aptly named Philip Thorne, from Colyton, Devon, in 2018, achieved the record for the most stinging nettles eaten during the competition - chomping an incredible 104ft of the plant.