Ottery pupils hold barrel event to keep tar tradition going

Ottery Tar Barrels 2010. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 5486-45-10AW

Ottery Tar Barrels 2010. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref sho 5486-45-10AW

Archant

With Ottery’s famous Tar Barrels tomorrow schoolchildren have been doing some rolling of their own to raise money for the event.

Pupils at Ottery primary held an Inter-House Sponsored Tar Barrel competition this week and ran an obstacle course with plastic cider barrels.

Devised by deputy head Mark Gilronan, he hopes it can become an annual event of its won at the school in the run up to the barrels.

He said: “A lot of the pupils aren’t eligible to roll the barrels as they weren’t born in Ottery, so it gives them a chance to run with them.”

The event is part of Ottery St Mary Primary School’s e-launched house system, which uses the names of the famous Ottery buildings Escot, Cadhay, Salston and Chanters.

The pupils are divided into their houses, given a plastic cider barrel, provided with the help of the Tar Barrel Committee, and run an obstacle course.

The amount of laps completed on Tuesday got the pupils a house point, but also helped to raise money for the ancient Ottery event, which needs donations to help pay for insurance and other expenses.

Mark said: “The committee helped to get the barrels for us, they were really supportive and came and did an assembly on the history of the tar barrels for us.”

The main event kicks off with the sound of the cannons firing across Ottery at 5.30am tomorrow morning.

Starting with the children’s barrels at 4pm, 17 are carried throughout carnival day, increasing in size up to the biggest men’s barrels, which are at 30 minute intervals from 7.30pm. The two ladies barrels start at 8.30pm and 10pm.

The bonfire on St Saviours Meadow, which has been growing in size over the past few weeks, will be lit at 6.30pm by carnival vice president Joyce Lovell.

The town centre will be closed to traffic from 5pm until gone midnight, and Sainsbury’s will close early.

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