Battle to save show from spending cuts

fayreBS''Pictured are Living History Camp and Battle Re-enactment members on dispay at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park
fayreBS''Pictured are Living History Camp and Battle Re-enactment members on dispay at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park

ORGANISERS of the Sheffield Fayre were reflecting this week on another successful event and big turnout – and keeping their fingers crossed over the future.

While one of the main attractions in Norfolk Heritage Park is always the re-enactment of battles through the ages, the impact of the financial struggles at the town hall is increasingly taking centre stage.

The council gives £25,000 towards the show, which is the biggest free event of its kind in the north of England, and was staged for the tenth time last Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

“Over the weekend, six different people came up to us asking about funding cuts,” said Erica Fidment, secretary of the Friends of Norfolk Heritage Park and the fayre committee.

“There are cuts everywhere and we get a lot of support from the council with the infrastructure and the budget.

“With it being the Jubilee (the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) next year, we are hoping that funding will be available. But we just don’t know.

“Hopefully it will take place, and everybody is very positive, but there is no commitment at this stage. It’s on a side of town that needs a lot of support.”

Paul Billington, the council’s director of environment and culture, said : “The council recognises the value of Sheffield Fayre and other similar events in parks.

“As everyone knows, the council faces continuing budget challenges but no budget decisions have been made at this stage.

“The council will work closely with partner organisations, including event organisers, to look at all options for the future delivery of services and activities.”

The fayre has become a key date in Sheffield’s calendar, anchored by the historical re-enactments that see ‘soldiers’ from Roman times to World War Two camping in the park, a horticultural show, fairground and community stalls.

One of the most popular attractions this year was the sideshows of the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive.

Last year’s event attracted around 25,000 visitors and it is thought more people came this year, despite uncertain weather.

Erica said: “It was absolutely fabulous. The first day is usually quiet but it was very busy. There were a lot of families. The re-enactments were as good as ever and the horticultural event was well attended. I was really happy about how it went.”

Worries about the weather and a loss of parking space because of the creation of football pitches turned out to be misplaced.

Christian Sprakes, a telesales worker from Doncaster who was with the American Civil War Society, said: “We do about six or seven major festivals every year and Sheffield is very good, because you get lots of different period groups here. Our members come from all across the country, from every walk of life.”