Each year in the Devonshire countryside, people get excited for a rather special and unusual but traditional event: tar barrels in Ottery St Mary (5th November).
...an ancient tradition pre-dating Guy Fawkes, in which men, women and children as young as 7 years old set light to wooden barrels lined with tar...
Devon is a County with a lot of great events. Earlier this year it was the first classic cars and motorbikes revival organised by Turner Locker in Barnfield Crescent.
If it is the first time you are going to Ottery St Mary's event, you might be surprised. Most people enjoy this.
It looks scary and even frightening for some, but it is all good fun.
Families are usually gathering around the village of Ottery St Mary for something special to remember and nowadays to share on social media too. No doubt that photos will appear on Facebook and Instagram. Amost a livestream for those staying indoors.
According to some locals, the tar barrels is more than a tradition...almost a way of life. Barrels aren't just picked randomly and quickly prepared: it is a long process to make sure that all goes to plan.
Everything is organized almost 12 months before the actual evening.
...barrels are selected and their internal surface coated with good old fashioned coal tar, available from only one source in the country. Straw and paper is placed inside to help the lighting process and the melting tar does the rest...
So, why are people attracted by the fire? It is also outdoors - whatever the weather.
You could rename this incredible event as a Winter Carnival featuring rolling tar barrels. But this wouldn't be the same.
When just saying "tar barrels" in the County everyone knows what it is about. Most of the residents love it...probably because it is unique as well. It also brings so many visitors to a quiet village that pubs and restaurants are happy too.
Meanwhile, there are safety instructions to respect - http://www.otterytarbarrels.co.uk/safety.html
No one will get hurt as long as these instructions are followed.
It is certain that where there is a fire there is a risk - but it is all under control.
Whatever you first thoughts/expectations are - especially if you have never been there - it is truly something to experiment. From that point, you will be able to make your mind up for next year's event.
Last but not least, get there early as there is no specific car park for this evening. You might decide to go by bus or taxi. A lot of visitors are happy to park outside Ottery St Mary and walk to the centre of the village where the action and adrenaline take place.
It is a wonderful gathering and the crowd is usually happy. Incidents are rare. You can't compare this with anything else and explaining what happens to someone else could be misleading. Best is to go and see by yourself.