As It Happens

Meet Gus the Asparagus Man, whose church appearance has some folks really steamed

Gus The Asparagus Man drew the ire of several Christian groups when he participated in the Worcester Cathedral's St. George's Day procession in full costume.
Gus The Asparagus Man, who travels the U.K. to promote the British Asparagus Festival, spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off. (British Asparagus Festival)
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When you travel around Britain every year dressed as a spear of asparagus, you get used to being the centre of attention.

But Gus The Asparagus Man has gotten a little more publicity than usual this week. He participated in the Worcester Cathedral's St. George's Day procession in full costume to mark the start of the British Asparagus Festival, drawing the ire of several Christian groups. 

During the April 23 ceremony at the Anglican cathedral, Gus followed behind a man holding a large bunch of asparagus, which received a church blessing.

"We'd actually been to Brussels, so we only heard about [the controversy] on the way back," Gus — whose true identity is a secret — told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"Some people seem to be offended by the sight of the asparagus and the big green man and I think they thought he didn't' actually belong there for some reason."

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the group Christian Concern, told the Daily Telegraph: "This is an absurd pantomime-type scene that makes a mockery of Christian worship."

The blog Archbishop Cranmer, which is run by conservative theologian Adrian Hilton, wrote of the event: "This is church, for God's sake. Really, for His sake, can the Church of England not offer something clean and undefiled in the worship of God?"

But Gus, whose day job is farming, defended his participation in the event, which he said those in attendance enjoyed. 

"I'm a bit, not upset, but a bit disconcerted why there should be such a reaction," he said. "Basically, all these people that are saying this, they weren't here, that's the problem."

Not everyone in the church community is up arms about the odd ceremony.

Worcester Cathedral Reverend Michael Brierley told the BBC:  "I think the inclusion of the figure added a bit of colour."

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