OXFORD’s famous annual funfair will be making a return next week after it was cancelled last year due to Coronavirus restrictions.
St Giles’ Fair, which is one of the oldest funfairs in England, dating back to 1625, is normally held on the Monday and Tuesday following the first Sunday after St Giles’ Day (1 September).
This year the fair will run on Monday September 6 and Tuesday September 7 from 11am to 11pm on both days.
The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mark Lygo, will open the fair by ringing a bell and being the first to take a ride.
The fair will run down St Giles, in North Oxford, and will feature rides such as the dodgems, waltzers, and the ‘Space Afterburn’ which is the only ride of its kind currently travelling in the UK.
Last year the fair was closed for the first time in a number of years.
This sparked outrage from local funfair owner, William Hebborn, whose family business, ‘Hebborn Amusements’ had been attending the fair since 1912.
Mr Hebborn said the fair should never have been cancelled and could have gone ahead with safety procedures.
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The council cancelled the fair last year due to the rising R number in the county, and the potential of the city entering a local lockdown.
This year, however, thousands are expected to turn up to the two-day event.
The fair will coincide with the first-ever World Fun Fair Month – launched by the campaign group Future 4 Fairgrounds to raise awareness of Showmen contribution to communities all over the world.
A Covid risk assessment has been carried out and control measures will be in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said: “St Giles’ Fair has been a fixture in the Oxford calendar for centuries, and is one of the few events that really does have something for everyone. After missing out last year, it’s great to be able to look forward to some family fun.”
Joey Noyce, from the organisers, Showmen’s Guild, said: “We can’t wait to come back to Oxford. It’s always a good experience for the showmen, but it will be extra special this year as St Giles is the first of the major fairs to take place in the past 18 months.
“We’re bringing some fantastic rides, including the largest Ghost Train travelling the UK and Super Bowl which is returning after an absence of a few years. There are also over 50 kiddies’ attractions, not forgetting all the various food outlets serving everything from traditional fish & chips to candy floss and toffee apples.”