Battle memories fade in rethink over fayre

Living History Camp and Battle Re-anactment members on display at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park
Living History Camp and Battle Re-anactment members on display at Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Park

The guns are falling silent, the swords are staying in their sheathes.

Organisers of the Sheffield Fayre in Norfolk Heritage Park are preparing the next August Bank Holiday weekend event without the history and battle re-enactments that have been a cornerstone for the past ten years.

But even without Roman, American Civil War and World War Two soldiers squaring up in the grass bowl of the park, it is believed another popular attraction is being lined up in the form of a ‘Merrie England Village’.

It is a stepping up of the partnership with the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive, which offers attractions such as a girl swimming in a goldfish bowl, the amazing butterfly girl and other bizarre sideshows.

The top of the park will be used by archive founder and director Prof Vanessa Toulmin and her team to showcase fairground traditions.

The lower section, in the bowl, will be labelled ‘Merrie England Village’, with activities such as Morris and maypole dancing, performances by local dance groups and the familiar horticultural and craft tents.

The familiar fairground rides and food, market and community stalls will remain.

Marge Allen, joint chair of Sheffield Fayre Committee, said: “The re-enactments have proved hugely popular over the years. However, we need to make sure the fayre is future-proofed for years to come.

“We welcome this new partnership working with the University which has allowed us to change the footprint of the event, and hope that there’s something on offer for everyone.”

The fayre, which is billed as one of the biggest free events in the region, is organised by the Friends of Norfolk Heritage Park, the council and the university.

The council meets the staffing costs and the aim is for operating costs to break even.

Organisers say they are primarily looking to refresh the event.

Professor Vanessa said: “I want every child and adult in the area to be delighted by the fun and entertainment we can bring - the history and tradition we can share.”

She added: “This year I want it to be bigger and better and I’m committed to making our 20th anniversary year a fun packed occasion at our favourite event. By working with the Friends and the council it will be an occasion to remember and also one to build on for future years to come.”

Marge Allen said: “We know that some people will be disappointed that the re-enactments are not here this year, but our most important task is make sure this fantastic event keeps going and that it remains free of charge.”