Everyone’s favourite age-old fair is being celebrated in Royal Mail’s latest stamp collection, and will spread the West Cumbrian art of gurning across the nation.

Egremont’s famous Crab Fair spreads smiles – and gurns – across every face, and the fair’s main event is being featured on Royal Mail’s Curious Customs stamps in the form of a face-pulling cartoon.

The Egremont Crab Fair’s beloved Gurning Competition is one of eight ‘curious customs’ from the UK considered perfect for the title, with others including; Brighton’s Burning the Clocks, Brockworth’s Cheese Rolling, and Abbots Bromley’s Horn Dance.

Although some customs are centuries old, such as ‘Obby ‘Oss in Padstow, which dates back to 1803, Egremont’s Crab Fair has been up and running since 1267, making it one of the oldest fairs in the world.

And the gurning competition has helped make it one of the best – good enough even to be included in ‘Customs and Exercise’, a poem written by performance poet Matt Harvey in which he speaks collectively of the UK, saying ‘we’re gurners.’

The eye-catching stamps, created by Jonny Hannah, were designed to celebrate the traditions and customs around the UK, particularly the ones that make us smile and bring people together.

Crab Fair Chairman Callum Scott is thrilled that the competition will be featured on a stamp: “It’s so brilliant for us. It’s our job to promote the championship, and what’s a better way to get word out than through a stamp!”

The Royal Mail’s Philip Parker said: “Communities throughout the UK have been coming together for centuries to share distinctive traditions and mark key dates of the year.”

“These customs continue to evolve, and our new stamps celebrate their diversity and the communities that maintain them.”

He continued, explaining the gurning competition’s pride of place on one of the two first class stamps in the collection: “We wished to feature such customs from all parts of the UK, and the Gurning Championship at the Egremont Crab Fair was a great example of such a tradition. And we knew this would provide a very striking image for a postage stamp!”

The final three Curious Customs featured in the collection are Lerwick’s Up Helly AA, Derry/Londonderry’s Halloween, and Bog Snorkelling in Llanwrtyd Wells, and all eight stamps can be bought online at www.royalmail.com/curiouscustoms, by phone on 03457 641641, or from 7,000 post offices throughout the UK.

Customs and Exercise by Matt Harvey

No matter what the custom is

We’re accomplices, not customers.

Magnificent participants in quirky endeavour

In curious costumes in inclement weather.

We’re guisers, we’re teasers, we’re chasers of cheeses

Boat-builders, clock burners, we’re vampires, we’re gurners.

We’re match-striking Vikings, we’re antler-lockers

‘Obby ‘Oss swoopers, Elfan safety snook-cockers.

We’re Cheerleaders, chortlers, we’re snorkelers, bog-sodden

We’re Ghouls in cagoules, fools ancient and modern.

It’s a dance with the past, it’s a craic, it’s a laugh.

Connection in every direction, belonging.

We might get a pint and an off-colour song in.

But what can get lost in the mist and missed in the fuss

Is that at the heart of all these customs

Is us.