Why just celebrate with your twin cities over food and dance, when you can also lose your marbles or flip a pancake to victory?
It seems appropriate for Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, since the small town happens to be a weird sports mecca. Even more fitting, considering Llanwrtyd Wells is in the midst of hosting its first biannual World Alternative Games. So the town made famous by bog snorkelling and ale wobbles will be spending its Twinning Day, held on Aug. 24, treating delegations from its twin cities of Český Krumlov, Czech Republic, and Mériel, France, to a day of wacky sports.
History of the Twinning
Český Krumlov and Llanwrtyd Wells' official twinning agreement took place in 1993, but the cultural connection began during World War II. During that time, a Czech school was held in Abernant Lake Hotel. Students of the school continued to come back to Llanwrtyd Wells through the years, keeping the bond alive.
Llanwrtyd Wells and Mériel's more random connection began in the 1980s. Two walkers, one from each town, were introduced through their children and those children began exchanging visits. This simple happenstance led to the two towns becoming official twin cities in 2000 and more families exchanging visits.
Sporty U.S. Sister Cities
Twin cities in the United States are known as "sister cities" and many hold celebrations in honor of these unions. These festivals are cultural sharing events that almost always include cuisine. Music, dance and even some sports are also highlights for some sister city festivals.
Phoenix, Ariz. bonds with its twin city Taipei, Taiwan, by inviting a team from the city to the annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival. Here teams of 24 to 38 people race by paddling dragon-headed boats. Taiwan returns the invitation by inviting a team from Phoenix to its Dragon Boat Festival.
Ties with another one of Phoenix's nine sister cities, Hermosillo, Mexico, is celebrated during the children's fair at the Mexican Cultural Center. The Sister City program offers fun hands-on cultural events, such as roping a hay bale adorned with a fake steer head.
Fort Worth, Texas, also puts a dual cowboy spin on their sister city program. On Aug. 28, Fort Worth will help host the Northern Texas 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit. Visitors will get to see Cowboy Stadium, check out The National Cowgirl Museum and strut their cowboy boots while line dancing.
Croquet and bubble blowing will be the sports that kick off Llanwrtyd Wells' Twinning Day. While the croquet players will be strategizing on how to best use their mallets to position their balls, the bubble blowers will be, well, blowing bubbles. That takes a whole other type of strategic thinking, as well as a willingness to risk soap in the eye.
There will be a few different games of marbles played. The most common being ringer. In ringer, a circle is drawn and players throw their marble in an attempt to knock out the other players' marbles.
Welsh Crempog Warm-Up
Lovers of pancake racing lucked out at the World Alternative Games. The Welsh Crempog Race was held on Aug. 22 and a regular pancake race will be part of the Twinning Day events. A crempog is a thicker Welsh pancake cooked on a griddle.
The only difference between the two sports is the type of pancake. Pancake racing is an over 500-year-old sport and a Shrove Tuesday staple in many cities. It uses up the rich foods before Lent fasting begins. Racers will actually walk 100 yards while flipping a pancake in a skillet. The fastest person--who also hangs on to their pancake--wins.
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