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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

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This week, facts about Cooper Hills Cheese Roll. Almost every year, thousands gather in Gloucestshire, England to watch the reckless run and roll after a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese.


CURWOOD: Two hundred years ago, an historic cheese was sent flying down Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire, England. The act was a show of defiance by commoners to proclaim their rights to farm crops, raise chickens, and graze cattle on public land. And almost every year since, the Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll marks the event. It all begins with a specially-made Double-Gloucester that weighs in at eight pounds and measures two feet across. It's pushed down a 300-yard, 50-degree slope. While the cheese does most of the rolling, thousands gather to watch people go running and rolling their way down the hill after the tasty wheel. The Cheese Roll has had its ups and downs. In the midst of World War II when cheese was rationed, a wooden model careened down the hill. And three years ago, a few too many bumps, broken bones, and bruises forced the people of Cooper's Hill to cancel the roll. Safety precautions were put into place and medics put on standby. But, alas, this year they'll have nowhere to go. Foot-in-mouth disease has quarantined many of the event's participants. Even the master of ceremonies and the traditional Double-Gloucester cheese maker are confined to their farms. So, like Red Sox and Cubs fans in the U.S., the folks in Gloucestershire, England, have adopted the familiar refrain, "Wait till next year." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

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