The Runaway Fair

The Runaway Fair
A week after the Michaelmas Fair the High Street is closed again for the traditional Runaway Fair. This is one of two annual Abingdon events that divert the 35 bus (and the X2 X3… ) down East St Helen Street and up West St Helen Street.

Can you name the other?
The Runaway Fair
In the days when people looked for employment at fairs the Runaway Fair was the chance to escape a bad employer taken on at the Michaelmas Fair, and try to find another.
The Runaway Fair
During the Michaelmas Fair,  last week, the Tattoo Parlour on High Street was doing a lively trade late into the evenings. They have not attempted to stay open late for the Runaway Fair.
The Runaway Fair
Nowadays the runaway fair has children’s rides and amusements that carry on through the afternoon and early evening.

16 thoughts on “The Runaway Fair

  1. Spike

    Good to see the old Town so active. I always look forward to scanning this blog.

    At the Runaway Fair, there is perhaps a trade ‘window’ for a tattoo removal service ?

  2. Chris

    I’d love to see the figures on the benefits of the fairs to the local economy. Was speaking to a business owner on Ock Street the other day and he stated that his business actually declined during the fair.

    No doubts that more people come to the town centre as a result of the fair but the majority the additional money just goes to the fair operators (who then subsequently spend the money elsewhere). Has there very been any offical figures on the subject?

  3. Native

    It seems people are very concerned about the loss of trade for the shops but i think there are those that do amazingly well thanks to the fair. Salami’s the shop over the road, china dina, dominos, sammi’s etc and all of the pubs are heaving! What isnt spent in one place is surely made up for in another. People need to realise that the showman and their fathers and grandfathers have been trading in this town for many many years. Much longer than most or even all of Abingdons shopkeepers and are keeping our towns living heritage alive. Too many people are keen to see the fair moved but no why should we get rid of it for out of towners who get held up for a few minutes on their way through our town or for those that live here because they cant afford to live in Oxford and then find that for three days they cant get their car out to work in Oxford! Live in Abingdon, Love Abingdon or pee off if you dont like our old ways!

  4. Chris Warren

    Tradition is all well and good but if it’s at the detriment of the town as a whole then it would need to be reviewed. Loving Abingdon does require one to protect its future. The delay to people’s commute isn’t the issue (at least not for me and for those who it is really do need to get a life).

    As you say, if the Board Face, Kings Head and Bell, Punch Bowl etc are heaving as a result of the fair then that is fantastic and would therefore offset the decline in other areas of the local economy but I haven’t seen evidence of this. Someone (Council, Chamber of Commerce etc) does need to put the time in to get the solid figures and put this issue to bed.

    Without them there is a danger that too many businesses lose too much custom (granted over an extended period) and the damage will be done before anyone notices.

  5. davidofabingdon

    This is purely annecdotal, but when I was going round the fair I noticed some businesses boarded up for the duration, others opening later and cashing in on the passing trade. In part, I suppose, it all depends what type of business you are; but I did notice that some of the town’s coffee houses closed down while others extended their opening hours. Some obviously saw the fair as a problem to be avoided, others saw the fair as an opportunity to be exploited.

    It is not all to do with external forces. Some of it is to do with internal attitude.

    Never mind, though. When free parking comes along all the problems will be solved.

  6. Iain

    The fair isn’t all about trade either. This is one of tge high points of tge year for my kids and their friends. Remember a quarter of our population is under 19 and this is one of the events in our calendar that really reminds you that Abingdon is actually a young town.

  7. doozer

    …I don’t think ALL Abingdon-onThames’ problems will be solved when there’s free parking; but the one about “not going to Abingdon because it costs to park” certainly will be 🙂

  8. davidofabingdon

    Well, time will tell whether taxpayer funded parking will deliver the additional revenue that local shopkeepers hope for.

    I am sure that the Vale council will by now have in place a robust monitoring system to make sure that teh spending of so much public money is delivering for the district.

  9. CST

    The vale will not have to monitor anything as all monies will be going to Tescos.
    They now have 4 shops in Abingdon where is going to end?
    I can see the headline now Tesco town council aprove name change for Abingdon to Tesco-on-Thames.

  10. doozer

    …as ‘The Vale Council’ no matter who they are or of what political pursuasion they have been or are or will be, all have one joint and common goal in mind – the success of Abingdon-on-Thames….Therefore I am quite certain that the current incumbants of the Vale Council will be able to use any of the previous incumbants “robust monitoring systems” to indeed ensure this money, just like previous monies was/is being spent wisely. I would expect nothing else!

    Golly…sometimes it feels like “one political colour” just wants to see “another political colour” fail. I, as a resident, just want to see Abingdon thrive. I hoped everyone else wanted the same…

  11. Just another resident

    Nobody loses anything because of the fair. It happens every year and is entirely predictable so the effects can be built into the business plan. It’s like Sundays and bank holidays.
    If you can’t accept that then don’t open a business within the fair ‘zone’.
    I agree with Iain – it is a highlight of the year for the kids of Abingdon.


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