Who’d have thought a whole day could be spent celebrating eels, well in Ely that’s exactly what they do on their annual Eel Day, which took place on Saturday. The day kicks off with a procession from the cathedral, along part of the city’s Eel Heritage Trail Walk and down to the Waterside, where a whole host of eel related activities are held, including, most importantly, the World Eel Throwing Competition. Now, don’t go throwing your hands up in horror, real eels are in no way harmed during this event, they’ve been replaced with very realistic stunt double stuffed toys. Far less slimy or likely to bite.
The arena is divided into two – one side dedicated to those who need a little practice, where you can perfect your throws for as long as you like, with any of the 8 or so eels available. They come in a few different sizes, but are all individually named. Then there’s the competition side, where you have only one throw that can be registered into the competition. There’s only one eel big, brave and official enough for this job, and that’s Denz-eel. Don’t ask why, he looks just as mean as Gabr-eel, Deelia, or any of the others, but he’s the ‘Golden eel’, so it makes sense to practice with one of his pals who’s built to the same proportions. Throws can be carried out underarm or over-arm, but there’s to be no tampering with Denz-eel. Some participants took it upon themselves to tie him into a knot, which was effective, but disallowed (and a little cruel, even for a stuffed toy).