DCSIMG

Death of Alnwick Fair

ALNWICK Fair – a much-loved fixture in the town's calendar for almost 40 years – has been axed.

The Fair committee has decided not to run the event this year because of lack of interest from the community.

The decision means the end of the traditional costumed event which has been held every year since the early 1970s in and around the Market Place.

The committee intends to continue to run its Twelfth Night Ball and possibly some of the traditional Fair past-times – such as the strongman competition – as stand-alone events.

Committee chairman Martin Brown said: "It's down to the lack of interest from people in the town who don't want it and think it's never going to be what it was when it was set up.

"There are 12 of us trying to organise a five-day event and it isn't really working.

"It's very disappointing for Alnwick but things change and when the Fair was originally set up a long time ago people didn't go away on holiday abroad, everybody from Alnwick worked in Alnwick and there was a commitment."

"It has become a hard slog to put on something and get a lot of criticism and no positive feedback."

In its heyday, the week-long fair was an event for the whole Alnwick community.

Shopkeepers, stall-holders and schoolchildren dressed up, crowds lined the streets for the parade and hundreds enjoyed games in the town's pubs.

However, interest gradually waned, forcing the committee to shorten the event to five days in 2004.

Two years later, it underwent a face-lift, becoming more of an arts festival.

And last year it took on a magic theme, under the banner of The New Alnwick Fair, and had a date change.

Out went the Fair Queen, Fair Princess, Bellman and Junior Bellman. The Militia and wench ducking were, however, given a reprieve.

Martin said the Fair had developed a "stigma" and the committee was keen not to "insult the past".

"The problem was we were trying to follow something that had been so good," he said.

This year's ball raised about 1,000 and so far donations have been given to the Duchess's High School choir and Lionheart Radio.

Martin added: "It will be strange not having the Fair this year as it is part of the fabric of Alnwick and in its heyday was extremely popular.

"But we need to ask the question, will people miss it not being there?"

He paid tribute to everyone who had helped Alnwick Fair.

"I would like to thank everybody who has supported the Fair, it is sad it has to come to this but unfortunately it has to."

Former Fair Bellman John Stevens said: "It's like everything else, things do run their course, it's as simple as that.

"I'm sad it's finished because the Fair, in its heyday, was absolutely fantastic. To this day, it is still a unique event.

"There is nothing in the country or in the world that compares to Alnwick Fair in its heyday."

Martin appealed to anyone interested in reviving the Fair to get in touch via email at newalnwickfair@hotmail.co.uk

See next week's Gazette for a look-back at Alnwick Fair through the ages.

 
 
 

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