THOSE who popped along to the Grove and Wantage Extravaganza were treated to an afternoon of sheer strength as the Tug of War Championships pulled into town.

Organisers say roughly 5,000 people enjoyed the festival and its live music, food, and activities for all the family on Saturday.

But the annual event – now in its third year – also hosted the National Outdoor Tug of War Championships, as the strongest teams in the land competed in the ultimate test of strength.

The winners will now go on to represent England at the World Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, this September.

Around 250 competitors took part, as 20 teams from around the country pulled and pulled and huffed and puffed throughout the afternoon at an overcast Grove Rugby Club.

Tug of War Association spokesman Alan Knott said: “We had a great day. Luckily the weather remained largely dry, so we had good conditions for competitive tug of war, which was great for all the spectators and visitors who came along to the event."

He added: “We would like to thank the Grove and Wantage Extravaganza organising committee and all of their volunteers for their assistance in helping us to stage this event.”

The Lincoln men’s team dominated, winning three of the five weight categories, while Bedford Ladies won both of their weight classes.

Teams from as far afield as Cumbria, Yorkshire, Devon and Sussex took part in the men’s, ladies and mixed weight classes, with each team featuring eight members, whose combined weight decided their class.

The ladies competitions saw Bedford Ladies crowned as national champions in both the 500kg and 540kg categories.

The Kilroe team from Lancashire missed out in both of those finals, but won the mixed weight category for the second year running, after defeating Lincoln.

There were also golds for Norton (Staffordshire) in the men’s 560kg and 600kg events, beating Oxney Vines into silver in both events.

The extravaganza itself was a free event, featuring a fun fair, sideshows, various display stands, climbing wall, dog agility display, dog and duck show, children’s rugby demonstration, clog dancing and Morris dancing.

Stephen Dexter, from the organising committee, said: “All in all I think it was a huge success for the community and hopefully we will do even better next year.

“Putting on an event like this takes time to get going: it’s in its third year so getting better.

“As more people come they will remember it for next year and tell friends and many will come again themselves.”

Around 30 to 40 different charities were also represented at the event, which ran from 10am - 11pm.

Mr Dexter added: “Its a community event – there are no charges so many of the stall holders were local organisations.”

For further information about tug of war,