Stoke Abbott provided the setting for an old fashioned, quintessentially British summer’s day out this month, a day thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended.
This year’s Stoke Abbott street fair, an annual event with roots back to the Victorian period, saw the streets of the village lined with attractions and visitors wandering happily through the picturesque lanes.
The origin of this tradition dates to 1870, when a group of workers formed a sickness insurance fund before any form of social security existed. It became known as the local ‘sick club’. To raise funds the club had an annual party and parade through the village. Just as before, the ‘sick club’ parade started proceedings in 2013.
This year funds from the fair are going towards the village church, the village hall and the Weldmar Hospicecare Trust.
“Each year our street fair raises vital funds for the village and our chosen charity whilst giving both locals and tourists a really enjoyable afternoon”, said Catherine Schrier, secretary of the fair.
“With traffic-free lanes, fun activities and live music, it’s the perfect summer day out for all the family.”
Walking into the village from the car park visitors were greeted by youngsters selling homemade lemonade, perfect refreshment on a humid day. At certain points the sun hid behind the clouds but there never seemed to be any hint of worry that a drop of rain might fall.
The more traditional stalls, the tombola, the raffle, the cake stalls and the craft stalls, were all well-presented and for the majority of the afternoon had a crowd of people around them. Accompanying these stalls were some slightly unusual ones, including a human fruit machine, which attracted some curious looks from those who saw it.
Teas, cakes and music were available in the centre of it all, with particularly fabulous music courtesy of the Rex Trevett Big Band, who returned to the fair after a popular performance at the 2012 event.
The dog show enticed spectators and entrants throughout the afternoon, with prizes in various categories, entertaining those watching happily on hay bales surrounding the makeshift arena.
Essentially out in ‘the middle of nowhere’, this event is a great escape from town, a lovely walk in the summer sun, a chance to eat local produce, a chance to buy some interesting items and a perfect opportunity to try your luck in a raffle – top prizes included a ferry crossing and B&B stay and a meal at the village pub, The New Inn.
Something for tourists and locals alike, this remains one of the most popular days out in the region and gets bigger and bigger each year, with all proceeds going to good causes. Pencil it into the diary for next year!
Words & pictures by Benjamin Parker