Category Archives: fair

Due to coronavirus, Abingdon Michaelmas Fair is cancelled for 2020

Abingdon Michaelmas Fair is cancelled
There was a four hour Town Council meeting last night where, after much debate, it was decided ‘with sorrow’ that the 2020 Michaelmas and Runaway Fairs would be cancelled.

There were representatives of Bob Wilson Funfairs Ltd at the meeting. Council staff took advice from the Showmen’s Guild, the police and other authorities. It was decided that the anticipated size of the crowd and the risk that poses to public health meant they must follow the requirements of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and cancel the fairs.

Some people thought the fairs had already been cancelled, and say this decision is no surprise. Most large inland fairs have been already been cancelled – including the St Giles’ Fair in Oxford, and Nottingham Goose Fair.

Only smaller fairs like the Steventon on the Green fair (3 miles from Abingdon), carry on. That was just last week.

The Abingdon Michaelmas and Runaway Fairs had their origins in another pandemic – the Black Death of 1348/9 which led to a labour shortage. The authorities of 1350 (King, Barons, Abbotts and Sheriffs) were faced with the problem of a labour shortages and wage inflation and decided to regulate wages through annual hiring fairs. That carried on until the nineteenth century.

After the industrial revolution such wage-setting / hiring fairs evolved into the fun fairs that we know.

I do not know the last time the Abingdon Michaelmas Fair did not go ahead. During World War II a single stall was set up on Abingdon Market Place to ensure the fair could continue after the war should any legal challenge arise. There have always been voices wanting the annual fair moved out of town.

The Mayor of Abingdon, Cllr Charlie Birks, said: ‘… All parties worked hard to see if the Fairs could proceed but we have come to the reluctant conclusion that we had to cancel this year. We hope the Fairs return to their rightful place in 2021.’

Abingdon Michaelmas Fair – Tuesday

Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
The crowds were out on both Monday and Tuesday for the Michaelmas Fair.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
There had been a lot of rain earlier in the day on both days, but it was mostly dry at the peak time of late afternoon and early evening.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
The fair rides were not that different from previous years. But this view will change as the new old people’s flats are being built along Ock Street. The residents are going to have great views as some of the biggest rides will be opposite.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
The best view, unless you own a drone, is from the high swing ride at the end of Ock Street.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
This picture is taken from near Reeves chip shop where people sit along the wall and eat chips.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
There are also lots of vans selling chips and donuts.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Some of our local restaurants offer more exotic street food. Dorindos dressed in ponchos for the occasion.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Traffic cannot get along High Street and Ock Street during the fair and so for three days, from Sunday to Tuesday, buses and cars are diverted.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
A pink unicorn, made in China, joined the cuddly toys in our house today. There seemed to be a lot of people  carrying pink unicorns at the fair. My guess is China is offloading a surplus.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
The County Hall always looks good, and the bright lights from the fair make it look stunning.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Anyway, that is all for another year. By tomorrow the fair will be gone.

A few children’s rides will return next Sunday for the Monday Runaway Fair.

Abingdon Michaelmas Fair – Sunday

Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
The Abingdon Michaelmas Fair has returned for Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
On Sunday the fair paraphernalia was being set up on the Market Place, High Street, Stratton Way,
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
and Ock Street.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Setting up the fair involves a lot of hard work. Bob Wilson’s Fun Fairs co-ordinate the show people, and work with Abingdon Town Council, and other authorities.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Abingdon County Hall Museum has an exhibition about the fair with pictures and historical details and a distortion mirror. The exhibition runs from 5th October until 22nd December
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Going to watch the fair being set up is a tradition.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
Another tradition is the Sunday Evening Fair Service at the Galloping Horses. This year it began with a welcome by the Mayor, and was led by Revd Steve Millard from Abingdon Baptist Church.
Abingdon Michaelmas Fair
There followed a ride for anybody who wished.

Abingdon Runaway Fair and Abingdon Fair Photo Competition

Abingdon Runaway Fair
One week on from the main Michaelmas Fair and the Runaway Fair arrived on the Market Place yesterday (Sunday) in the rain.
Abingdon Runaway Fair
The fair was underway throughout today (Monday), and the weather was better with just fine rain as evening arrived.
Abingdon Runaway Fair
Traffic is diverted round by East St Helen Street and West St Helen Street during the Runaway Fair. It always feels strange sitting in our first floor lounge and seeing people sailing by, or halting, outside of our window – on the top deck of Oxford double decker buses.
Abingdon Runaway Fair
I have not managed to get a good photo of the bus sailing by yet.

Talking of good photos, the Friends of Abingdon have a Abingdon Fair Photo Competition. Entries need to be in by midnight on Saturday 20 October.