More Goose Fair Memories

I’ve written about Nottingham’s ancient travelling fair that boasts a history of over seven hundred years previously and although seldom ever visiting in the past few years it’s always evocative of younger days in Nottingham. This might partly be because I just pass by it so very often. On certain days a week my journey into the city of Nottingham can mean passing by the large, garishly-lit spectacle up to four times so it’s something of a constant reminder.

This year has presented only the second occasion when the fair has run over five days (the previous time was on the fair’s 700th birthday). It’s the night time view that impresses of course and that has never changed. From the main Mansfield to Nottingham road, the huge happening on the Forest recreation ground can simply not be ignored. Even from the car a rumbling tumult can be felt as people pour from all directions towards the annual honey pot. This year for the first time I even heard it from my own home which stands some three miles away as the crow flies.

It’s a regular Friday evening routine for me to travel to the city to run with a friend who lives a few minutes walk away from the fair and this Friday we decided to take our little training jog around the perimeter of the fair and even after all these years, and without the personal interest in it I still have to say it is immense. Approaching it the aromas, the busy whirring fairground engines and the screams of fairgoers overwhelm the senses with the sheer size of it. Every year I wonder if this tradition is finally diminishing like so many older customs and entertainments. I look for signs that it is shrinking in size or maybe that there are less people enjoying themselves on the rides or tucking into the array of foods on sale, but truthfully I see none.

It’s been a long time since the Nottingham Goose Fair was held in the city’s Old Market Square and much, much longer since the geese the event was named after were walked with specially tarred feet all the way from the Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire fens or from distant Norfolk. You can’t buy a female servant there anymore which amazingly you could in the early days, nor sadly can you visit the boxing and wrestling booth or the Wall of Death. Much if it is the same as it ever was though, ideal for a mushy pea and mint sauce frenzy, spending a few pounds scaring yourself half to death on the rides and buying the youngsters some candy floss and a toffee apple after winning them a large cuddly toy. The perhaps surprising thing is that Goose Fair does relatively little to reinvent itself but goes on strongly year upon year. It would be a brave man that would bet on that not continuing for a long time to come yet.

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