Banbury Fair cancelled
Michaelmas Fair called off as mitigation against COVID-19 can’t be achieved
Banbury’s Michaelmas Fair has been cancelled. The annual event, which was due to take place in four weeks time, has been called off as the situation with increasing COVID-19 infection rates across the country causes growing concerns.
The decision was revealed in a letter to councillors on Friday afternoon from Cherwell District Council’s Chief Executive Yvonne Rees. Banbury FM understands a safety advisory group had been looking into ways of letting a safe Banbury Fair go ahead. However after a most recent conversation with the organiser of the event, Bob Wilson Funfairs, it was agreed it wasn’t possible to mitigate against the risks.
A statement issued by Cherwell Dsitrict Council says, “[The fair] would normally attract big crowds to the town centre. The difficult decision to postpone the fair was taken to protect the safety of the people of the Banbury area and that of the staff who operate the fair. A decision will be made on when the fair can come to Banbury as and when public health conditions permit.
“Cherwell district is currently on yellow alert status for the number of coronavirus infections in the community. Government guidance tells people to: avoid meeting in groups of more that six people; keep at least two metres away from people you do not live with; avoid crowded areas; and avoid touching things that other people have touched”.
William Wilson of Bob Wilson Funfairs said: “We apologise to the people of Banbury and Cherwell that the fair is not taking place this year. It has been postponed because of the rising cases of coronavirus. The decision has been taken jointly with Cherwell District Council. We look to forward to seeing everyone next year”.
Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “The Banbury Fair has brought happy experiences to generations of people from the town and wider area for many years. It would be wonderful to think that we could safely meet in such large groups again, but the virus is still transmitting, and indeed increasing, in Oxfordshire communities.
“However, this is not a cancellation, it is a postponement. If we work together and keep following the Government advice we will overcome this virus and be able to welcome the Michaelmas Fair, and other fun events, back to our communities again. That means following the rule of six, keeping a safe distance, washing our hands and wearing face coverings.”
Banbury’s history includes fairs dating back a number of centuries. These initially were held for local trade, job recruitment and recreation. A Charter was subsequently signed which included the provision to hold an event annually on the first Thursday after Old Michaelmas Day. It is believed this is the first time ever that the fair has not taken place.