The 2011 Gloucester Cheese Rolling event has been cancelled following threats from irate members of the public.

Cheese Rolling organisers had decided to introduce a £20 entrance fee to watch this year’s event, which had been free in previous years. But they have made the decision to cancel the whole event after committee members received threats and abuse – they reported being spat at and threatened with violence.

Last year’s Cheese Rolling event was also cancelled because of health and safety concerns.

The 2009 event had attracted 15,000 people, but the venue – the fields surrounding the slopes of Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester – can only cope with 5,000.

It is feared that the centuries old event will die out.

Cheese Rolling on for 2011 – tickets £20

Cheese Rolling Committee spokesman Richard Jefferies said: “Since we announced an entry fee, we have been bombarded with so much hostility and criticism, much of it at a personal level, including accusations of profiteering and some of the committee have even received threats.

“People have been spat at in the street, received verbal abuse in shops and at school gates and there has even been talk of bricks through windows and houses being burned down.

“We have also endured a torrent of online criticism and abuse from cowards who failed to identify themselves by hiding behind false identities. It has been horrific.

“We find these insults, accusations and threats hurtful, frightening and totally unjustified. The committee members have always given freely of their time and effort for years without making a brass farthing from it.

“The lion’s share of the money raised by the sale of tickets would have gone towards the extensive costs of running the actual event. A significant amount of money had been raised through sponsorship but not enough to offset the whole cost of running the event.

“The team, like Cheese Rolling fans around the world, is saddened by the news and hopes to see the event which helped put Gloucester on the international map rise from the ashes.”

Cheese Rolling, for the uninitiated, is an annual festival in Southern England at a circle of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the steep Cooper’s Hill in Brockenworth. Behind the cheese, competitors throw themselves down the hill, with the first to the bottom winning the cheese.

Believe it or not, Cheese Rolling is more hardcore than one would imagine…

Here’s a video of the 2009 (last ever?) Cheese Rolling event.