Postfest V, Part II: Crabapple Fairs
Date: Tue, August 09, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture
Dwarves and gnomes love crabapples, using them in all manner of viands and potations. Crabapple Fairs celebrate the annual harvest of these fruits that humans find unpalatable. A general market usually accompanies the Crabapple Fairs, at which "gurning" competitions may be the highlight, along with a variety of unique footraces.
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Date: 17th Patchwall (Varies)
Location: Principality of Ulek, Kron Hills, Flinty Hills, Dwarven Holds
Crabapple Fairs are a distinctly dwarven, some say gnomish, invention and are really only popular in areas with populations of one or the other race. The ostensible purpose of the Crabapple Fair is the harvest of crabapples, a fruit generally unpalatable to humans but considered a delicacy by both dwarves and gnomes. Originally, before the Migrations, the Crabapple Fair was a communal picking festival. In rural areas, this is still true. With the rise of a greater human population, however, most Crabapple Fairs are now markets where the dwarves or gnomes purchase crabapples from humans or halflings who have picked them to sell to the dwarves and gnomes. For the convenience of pre-picked crabapples, the dwarves and gnomes are willing to pay. Along with the fruit sales, a general market is also held.
Associated with the Crabapple Fair are competitions of all sorts. Dog races are most common in gnomish settlements. Dwarf races are the highlight of Crabapple Fairs where there are many of the dwur. In a dwarf race, fully armed and armored dwarves compete in foot races. There is no set distance; the dwarves race until one of their number has so outdistanced their fellows that the hooting of the spectators declares the winner. Usually, a dwarf race does not last long. As the dwarves will say, they are natural sprinters, masters of sudden rushes or charges, “very dangerous over short distances,” but not given to long runs. Dwarf races are held over flat ground, up hill and, most popularly, down hill. Each will have a winner. Dwarf races originated as a test of battle fitness when the crabapple harvesters had to be protected during the harvests of old.
Most associated with both gnomish and dwarven Crabapple Fairs, however, is the practice of “gurning” or making grotesque faces. While gurns are regularly exchanged as an odd type of greeting, a specific gurning competition is always held. Such a competition is open to anyone who wishes to participate but all magic or props are strictly banned. The winner is the competitor who makes the most comical or grotesque face and can hold it for a count of five. The origin of gurning is the mocking of the faces of the humanoid foes of the dwarves and gnomes, bucking up one’s own side, particularly those who had to venture out to pick the crabapples in olden times. Now, it is mainly a tradition.
The tradition of gurning is deeply offensive to half-orcs. Elves also find it unseemly and tend to avoid Crabapple Fairs. Gurning can also turn ugly. Over-zealous gurning competitions can see half-orcs attacked, although more rarely killed nowadays. Of course, any actual humanoids encountered may not be so lucky. They may be killed outright. This is not surprising for Crabapple Fairs make tempting targets for marauding humanoid bands, which is likely why gurning developed in association with the Crabapple Fairs in the first place.