CONSERVE connoisseurs will be getting in a jam near Abingdon this weekend.

The Women’s Institute’s Real Jam Festival is set to attract hundreds of visitors in a search for the UK’s best preserve maker.

Launched last year at Denman College, the WI’s headquarters in Marcham, the national contest brings together amateur enthusiasts and jam experts from across the country – and abroad.

With 14 competition categories this year, including the nation’s favourite strawberry jam, there is an opportunity for everyone to show off their skills and compete for the title of the UK’s best jam maker, along with £1,000 worth of kitchen equipment.

The WI’s cookery school manager Peter Lien, from Harwell, said: “Last year, we got about 500 entries. It’s quite a prestigious competition in the world of jam-making.

“We even got a jar of jam last year sent all the way from Australia.

“We usually hold our jam-making classes in late August when there is lots of fruit around, and we are hoping that hundreds of people come along and enjoy the weekend.”

The festival will feature cookery demonstrations from top chefs, local produce stalls and craft activities, and WI cream teas.

Masterchef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker will be demonstrating his cookery skills throughout the weekend with Rachel Green, chef and ambassador of British produce.

All of the judged jam will be on display for interested members of the public to see, and for all participants to check their final scores, although it won’t be on sale.

Mr Lien added: “We make honey at Denman College but we don’t sell jam – although that is certainly something we will consider in the future.”

The festival is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm on both days.

Last year’s winner was Rosemary Green, from Ely, Cambridgeshire, with her gooseberry and elderflower jam. * For further information, see the website