FOOTPATHS will be cleared, gardens will be preened, and community spirit will be celebrated as villages once again compete to be crowned Dorset’s best village.

Dorset Community Action is now accepting entries from parish councils, village hall committees and other active community groups to take part in this year’s contest.

The competition, supported by the Dorset Echo, has run for the past 27 years.

Organiser Rita Burden said: “What we’re not looking for is a chocolate box village.

“We’re looking for villages where we can see that communities work well together, have a pride in the amenities they have and the surroundings that they live in.”

Last year, 55 villages took part in the competition. Tincleton bagged the Small Village Award with the Large Village Award going to Child Okeford.

Ms Burden is hoping a similar turnout will enter again and believes all entrants have the potential to win.

She said: “Any sort of community group can enter.

“It doesn’t have to be the parish council.

“It can be a village hall committee, or schools, Scouts or Guide groups.”

In addition to this competition, villages can submit entries for the new category of Best Village Shop, sponsored by the Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

It joins a list of other categories, including The People’s Project award.

Eco-friendly villages may also wish to enter the Environmental Champions category, which recognises the work of villages looking to reduce their impact on the environment.

Ms Burden said: “The environment category is slightly different this year. We’re looking for groups to work together to come up with a green initiative.”

The deadline for entries is 5pm on Monday, April 7, 2014. Those wishing to enter the environment category are only asked to register an interest by this date.

The final deadline for this category is Friday, August 22, to allow time for groups to work together.

Entry packs can be downloaded at www.dorsetcommunityaction. or ordered by telephoning Dorset Community Action on 01305 216407.