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.’
Cancer Research Uk re-opened today in Abingdon. They are the second charity shop in Abingdon to re-open.
They have put in place safety measures to stop the transmission of the virus and keep people safe. Only 4 customers will be allowed in the shop at any time and shop displays allow 2 meter social distancing.
Another shop that has a new look is the ex-Ladbrokes. It will open as Abingdon Nail Spa. The nail bar that was in West St Helen Street are moving and upgrading.
The name Abingdon does carry a certain significance. It is also used by Abingdon Health, in York, who are working on a Covid-19 antibody test.
Temperature went above 31 C as an alert was put in place telling people to take extra care in the sun.
I wonder about the risks of swimming in the River Thames. But I do know that not swallowing water reduces the risks of getting Weil’s disease.
It was a lovely sunny day. Whether that will help stop the spread of the Coronavirus no longer seems sure. The southern states of the USA, and Mexico and Brazil are still experiencing a rise in cases, and they get a lot of sun.
Government advice about bubbles, and numbers of people in groups, and whether you can hug people and go indoors with them is becoming very confusing, and changing by the day, and so we are better to stay alert. We, and not the government, are responsible for our own health.
W H Smiths re-opened today in Abingdon. A lot more businesses including pubs and restaurants and hairdressers can open from July 4th. However tattoo shops, nail and beauty salons, and gyms still have to wait for their go ahead.
Nail salons and tattoo shops were wearing PPE before the rest of us. It is ironic that they are at the end of the queue.
Today was not only Father’s Day, but also the Virtual Make Music Abingdon Day. There were people performing from rooms in their houses. One group performed from a unknown field. The group called No Horses played from the Brewery Tap – which was otherwise empty.
Then there were groups that had recorded separately and been put together by the wonders of technology. The event was hosted by Make Music Abingdon. There was a virtual tip jar on paypal.
There are lots of virtual events happening in Abingdon. I found out about this from the Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council virtual events page. If you want more people to know about your virtual event then let them know.
These are in uncertain times for the UK economy and local businesses, many of whom reopened last week.
Lee Longlands, in Abingdon (incorporating Vineys of Abingdon) opened today after three months of pandemic lockdown. The lack of trading over that time has led to cash flow problems and it was reported by Birmingham new sources, and the BBC, that they went into administration this week.
Lee Longlands are assuring customers that they continue trading, and the administrator sounds hopeful of bringing them out of administration fairly soon.
Lee Longlands was established in 1902 in Birmingham, and Vineys was established in the 1870s in Abingdon.