Why do we still go to movie theaters when we can watch the same film at home? Why do we go to the Cheese Roll when YouTube captures the highlights for us without requiring us to make the trek? Sitting in front of our screens is just no substitute for experiencing something in the moment, making new friends, and the serendipity inherent in attending a festival.
I stayed out of the way of a motley crew of daredevils who competed for an 8-pound circle of UK cheese. One explained that the cheese roll is like snowplowing down a black diamond mountain having just strapped on skis for the first time.
I had never heard of Kenny Rackers, the American Cheese Racer, before I made it to Cooper’s Hill. This 27-year old former Army soldier saw this annual British event as a way to inspire people. He believed that winning the Cheese Roll could propel a million others to pursue their own dreams.
Kenny won the first race of the day looking like a superhero flying down the hill. Of course, it’s a thrill seeing people run down the hill, but it’s even more exciting that this event is small enough that you can meet a few of the winners.
The winner of the second men’s race said, "You can't control yourself whatsoever so it's a case of rolling down and seeing where you end up.” Maybe that’s part of the age-old appeal of this raucous, bizarre event. It’s all about resilience and an ability to somersault through life no matter which mogul catches you unexpectedly.