More than 9,000 visitors will be welcomed to this year’s West Lindsey Churches’ Festival with the offer of scones of all shapes and tastes in what is believed to be Lincolnshire’s first ‘sconeathon’.
Now in its 23rd year, the festival is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
This year’s event will see 95 churches and chapels across the West Lindsey district opening their doors.
With free entry to all, over half of the participating churches are gearing up for the ‘Sconeathon Challenge’, creating wonderful and intriguing flavoured scones for visitors to sample as they travel from church to church.
Festival chairman, Paul Howitt-Cowan said: “Ancient recipe books are being dusted down as our members hunt for the more traditional flavours.
“We are in for a tremendous treat.
“Many people are also creating new unique scones, especially for the weekend.
“It is going to be tastebud heaven!”
The challenge for the festival visitor is to taste as many types of scones as they can over the four days, sharing photos on social media using the hashtag #LincsSconeathon.
Riby’s St Edmund’s is hosting a ‘Scone Off’ on May 18, inviting visitors to try their hand at baking four scones in one of several categories for a panel of judges - including Lincolnshire celebrity chef Rachel Green - to select the winners.
Over at St Helen’s in Willingham by Stow, there is even an exhibition on the local production of all the ingredients used in making this tasty teatime treat.
The churches’ festival is also a joyful way to encourage families to enter a church, perhaps for the first time, and discover these ‘mini-museums’ that are literally on the doorstep of people’s homes, but often forgotten and sometimes sadly neglected.
Paul said: “We want people to open the doors and look inside these stone buildings and learn about their past, in a fun and enjoyable way.
“One group of churches right in the south of the area has certainly grasped this opportunity.
“The ‘Abbots Treasure Hunt’ - taking place around six churches in Bardney, Southrey, Stainfield, Apley, Minting and Gautby - entices the visitor to follow the clues between the churches to discover where the Abbot of Bardney has hidden his treasure.
“And a reward is offered to the person who finds it!”
Other attractions include lunches served in around 25 churches, homemade cakes served in many more and a host of free music, including 15 organ recitals and medieval, renaissance and baroque music performed by Sixteen Eighty Five.
There are many other intriguing stories to be discovered at the festival churches.
These include Gautby and the murder of a young man on his “Grand Tour” of Greece; Langton by Wragby and its famous son, Stephen Langton, key architect of the writing of Magna Carta; Kettlethorpe’s association with Katherine Swynford, the 3rd wife of John of Gaunt, well known from Anya Seton’s famous novel Katherine; Thoresway and the mystery of the Pagan drowning pool.
Paul added: “Every church really does have a story to tell.”
“Whatever the weather, make sure you take to the outdoors, with an appetite to learn about our communities’ heritage - you will not be disappointed.”
The Festival runs on May 11 and 12, May 18 and 19.
Full details and an interactive map can be found at www.churchesfestival.info.
Brochures are also available in libraries and participating churches.