Banbury Fair cancelled

20/09/2020

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.


Reader's opinions
  1. Colleen Roper   On   20/09/2020 at 11:10 pm

    Have you seen your local fairground this year? If the answer is no then this is the reason. As an industry the travelling fairgrounds have been decimated by the impact of coronavirus. Many fairgrounds have been cancelled from small local fairs to major fairs that have held Royal Charters for 100’s of years. Nothing has stopped our industry like this before even in WW2 in the black outs showmen and women found a way to bring all the fun of the fair to their customers. The government have said our business could open from 4th July as long as covid secure measures were in place. Being responsible and professional business people the Showmen have gone above and beyond to make sure that everything was in place so they could operate safely. As an outside venue fairgrounds are at even more of an advantage however even with all the measures in place local authorities have ultimately held the power and have denied the fairgrounds to open. As a result many showmen families are on their knees financially and mentally. Families that have done what they do for many generations are now unable to operate and are struggling to support themselves. With little or no help from anyone including government support as so many have fallen through the gaps in the system. There doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of this very dark tunnel with so many of the autumn winter and early 2021 season also already cancelled or under review. Showmen contribute to society just like any other self employed business person. They want to work to support themselves and their families and are not being allowed to do so. Something needs to be done and it needs to be done now before the tradition and heritage that we are so proud of is lost for ever. If you do see a fairground open please support it. If you don’t see one ask your local council where it is. Many other similar sectors have been able to operate. Maybe you’ve visited a theme park or a seaside venue. They will have had to have exactly the same measures in place to operate so what is the difference to a travelling fairground? Lots of other businesses are open without as many measures in place so what is the issue? Is it discrimination? I’m starting to question it myself and maybe you should too. Colleen Roper

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