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FAIR ENOUGH? Autumn is a thrilling time for lovers of traditional funfairs. Roll up, roll up, as OONAGH ROBINSON guides you through the greatest shows in the region.


Nottingham's getting set for the Goose Fair THE smell of candy floss, toffee apples and mushy peas, the squeals of delight as teenagers are flung upside down on the latest whiteknuckle ride, the intoxicating sight of 20,000 twinkling lights as dusk falls on a chilly evening.

They can only mean one thing - the fair's in town again.

For hundreds of years, communities have held these annual gatherings, sometimes as a way for employers to hire new workers, sometimes to celebrate the changing of the seasons and sometimes just for the sheer joy of it.

Look out as the travelling showmen and women head into town at these events coming soon in the East Midlands (and make a note of the ones taking place a little further ahead next year).

BURTON STATUTES FAIR Burton-upon-Trent town centre, Staffordshire Monday, October 1-Tuesday, October 2 Taking over the Market Place, High Street, Lichfield Street and New Street for two days, this traditional event was originally one of a series of hiring events known as "mops" and "statutes" fairs.

It began nearly 800 years ago as an opportunity for labourers to seek work for the coming year, and has now morphed into a grand amusement fair, with rides for all ages.

It's always run on the first Monday and Tuesday after the Christian festival of Michaelmas and has been organised by Pat Collins Funfairs for almost 140 years. GOOSE FAIR Forest Recreation Ground, Nottingham Wednesday, October 3-Sunday, October 7 This legendary Nottingham event is believed to date back as far as 1284 and has taken place just about every year since - only being cancelled due to an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1646 and again during the first and second world wars.

The annual fair was originally held around the end of September to mark Michaelmas. A fat roast goose was a favourite treat on this important feast day and the birds were traditionally brought in from Lincolnshire to be sold in Nottingham.

Moving to early October from 1752, the popular trade fair continued right up to the 19th century when it was shortened from eight days of merrymaking to just three.

It was moved from its main site in Old Market Square to its current location in the 1920s, by which time the addition of merry-go-rounds, swings, helter-skelters and various zany sideshows had turned Goose Fair into the fantastic family day out we know today.

This year, expect in excess of 500 rides and attractions, creating a spectacle to thrill young and old alike. ILKESTON CHARTER FAIR Ilkeston town centre, Derbyshire Wednesday, October 17-Sunday, October 20 Another oldie, but goodie, this is an exhilarating street fair which sees the entire town centre closed off for traffic and turned into a giant playground for young and old alike.

This will be the 766th annual event, with the biggest and best rides in the UK carefully slotted in at the Market Place, South Street, Bath Street and Pimlico, among other sites.

The original charter for the event was granted by King Henry III in 1252, giving the Lord of the Manor of the town (then known as Elkesdon) the right to hold a market and an annual hiring fair - initially on the feast of the Assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary - in August.

Since 1974, Erewash Borough Council has expanded the event and attracted some of the UK's leading showmen and women. BELPER FAIR Coppice, Belper, Derbyshire Thursday, November 1-Saturday, November 3 A big hit with parents looking to occupy their kids during half term, this popular event at the Market Place and Coppice area is run by local showman family The Proctors, who have been in the business since the 1860s when they were originally circus proprietors.

There is also a sister event, the Belper Spring Fair, held each year around Easter. LOUGHBOROUGH FAIR Market Place, Loughborough, Leicestershire Wednesday, November 7-Saturday, November 10 A small but perfectly formed fair which manages to pack in waltzers, dodgems, carrousels and even some white-knuckle rides, with upwards of 20 great attractions. The event dates back to the granting of a charter to the Lord of the Manor, Hugh le Despencer, by King Henry III in 1221.

The fair was originally held on St Peter's Day and, although the date has moved around, is believed to have taken place in some form every year since then.

Interestingly, Loughborough traditionally marked the end of the year for showmen and women, but in recent times a few new events have sprung up to keep them in work for longer - notably the Christmas markets which now take place around the region.

CHESTNUT FAIR Long Eaton town centre, Derbyshire Thursday, November 15-Saturday, November 17 A relative newcomer to the world of funfairs, this Burton Statutes Fair increasingly popular event is another from Erewash Borough Council, including a great range of whiteknuckle rides, plus dodgems, waltzers and all manner of children's favourites.

Head to the Waverley Street area and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the season as we head into winter. SHROVETIDE FAIR Lichfield, Staffordshire Usually the first event of the year after the winer break, this popular event has been held on the day before Lent since 1623, with a civic procession and an ancient ceremonial opening, alongside other attractions. The town crier usually proclaims the event open at noon on Shrove Tuesday, followed by the sounding of the "pan on the bell" from nearby St Mary's Church and, led by the Mayor and city officials, children are then at liberty to rush off and claim a free ride.

The fair coincides with another big event in town, the pancake races - which see people of all ages take part in silly running competitions. ASHBY STATUTES FAIR Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire Usually held mid-September You've just missed this year's event, but this mini extravaganza is held around Market Street and Brook Street in the busy town in the middle of September.

Once again, the show is organised by Pat Collins Funfairs, which has been involved in the business for 140 years.


Burton Statutes Fair

Ilkeston Charter Fair
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 26, 2018
Previous Article:From the archive.

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