All’s fayre but the weather at Sheffield event

Sheffield Fayre at Norfolk Heritage Park. Enjoing the carousel, from left, Gina Townend, Niamh and Natasha Holmes
Sheffield Fayre at Norfolk Heritage Park. Enjoing the carousel, from left, Gina Townend, Niamh and Natasha Holmes

Organisers of the Sheffield Fayre are preparing to stick to the new format, despite the weather putting a dampener on the event last weekend.

They made a big change this year by dropping the re-enactment of historical battles in favour of a more traditional ‘Merrie England’ theme in Norfolk Heritage Park.

Crowds turned out on Sunday, but the attendance on Bank Holiday Monday, usually the busier day, was hit by the worst weather in 13 years of the event.

One stallholder said Monday was “a bit of a washout and disappointing compared to Sunday, which was really good. Lots of people came and made a day of it.”

Organisers of the council-backed fayre opted for more traditional attractions in a continuing partnership with the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive.

Marge Allen, joint fayre committee chairman, said: “I thought it was very good despite the weather. Everybody seemed to enjoy it. There was a good atmosphere.

“The horticultural side was fantastic and I think creating a type of village green is the way forward.

“I know there were people who didn’t like not having any battles, but I think it’s time for a change.

“If people want to teach their children about history they can go to the library or go on the internet. This is a family weekend with something for everybody, and I want to keep it free so families can come.

“Money isn’t going to get any easier. I don’t think people realise you have to pay for the re-enactments.”

Marge praised the quality of the horticultural produce and the artwork on display. “Next year I’d like to get the schools in the area more involved. I’m sure there’s a lot of talent out there.”

Another ambition is try to ensure the event embraces the whole of the city. “The west of Sheffield still doesn’t know it’s on. It’s a city event. It’s a really good event in a beautiful park.”

Council cabinet member Isobel Bowler said: “A cold wet bank holiday is a challenge for any outdoor event. I was at the fayre on Sunday and heard many positive comments about the event and the park.

“When events change focus it can take a bit of getting used to, but the Merrie England theme worked well and attracted people who had not been to the fayre before.

“We are really grateful to the support from the University of Sheffield, the National Fairground Archive, Arts Council England and of course the Friends of Norfolk Park for making the event possible this year. I look forward to next year’s fayre and I hope we will have better weather.”

But some people need to be convinced. One online comment rued the loss of the re-enactments of historical battles.

Another read: “I thought it would be like every other year, people in costume, tents, woodcraft.

“What did I find – fairground rides. And the horticultural show was at the bottom of the park so I could not take my parents as it was too far for them.”