There were lots of happy faces at the 39th Nunney Street Market and Fayre on Saturday 2 August, after heavy rain made way for sunny blue skies.
After last year’s deluge forced the organisers to call off the event in the afternoon, this year’s start was far from promising. Stallholders arrived from 6am onwards to dreary, wet weather conditions.
No fewer than one in five booked pitches were abandoned, either cancelled because of the weather forecast or abandoned without reason. Some stallholders showed up only to change their mind and go home at the last minute.
All credit therefore to Nunney Fayre secretary Jeremy Gaunt, who ploughed on regardless and pulled it off – again. By shuffling the spacing between carefully marked and measured pitches it became barely noticeable that so many stalls were missing.
The official opening was done this year by Owen Hillier MBE, thought to be the oldest living person to have been born in Nunney and one of the founders of the modern-day Nunney Fayre.
By 10.30am the rain stopped and the first bits of blue sky started to appear. As sponsors enjoyed a glass of bubbly at a reception in The George at Nunney, news spread on social media that there would at least be a window of opportunity to visit Nunney Fayre and stay dry.
In fact, the weather did better than that. Despite the odd very dark and threatening clouds, it stayed dry and sunny for the rest of the day.
New this year was the busking stage on the corner of Frome Road and Donkey Lane. The Frome Street Bandits and another excellent Frome band, Honk Monster, paraded up and down the fair to the obvious delight of the crowd.
At Nunney Castle the Frome Swing Band made a welcome return with swinging hits from the big band era. The band Skelad played a lively mix of Irish ballads and 60s and 80s covers that proved impossible to resist.
More entertainment was on offer at the Salthouse, where Simon’s Amazing Magic drew a sizeable crowd throughout the day. Demonstrations of beekeeping, willow weaving and other traditional crafts took place outside the Salthouse, a centre for shared workspace and health and wellbeing therapies.
The Bathampton Morris Men performed twice, once in the Market Place and later in the day outside the former Post Office on Castle Green.
In the week that Britain marked 100 years since the start of the First World War, street theatre group Little Victory Ball performed a specially written show on a beautiful stage opposite The George at Nunney. The group also toured the fair, engaging with visitors wherever they went.
They said on their website: “The Little Victory Ball LOVE performing in Nunney!! We get looked after and eat cake all day. Nunney should have a fair every month!”
Every year the Nunney Fayre secretary gives one charity fundraiser the chance to highlight their specific cause. This year he had invited 14-year-old George Taylor, who has been a very active fundraiser for the Royal British Legion and has met HM The Queen on a number of occasions.
George (known as @Cubcampaigner on Twitter) is doing a 50-mile 2-day sponsored walk later this month and has already raised over £2,000 in sponsorship. George’s local MP, Adam Holloway, is a familiar face in Nunney; he was unable to attend Nunney Fayre, but phoned during a Parliamentary visit to the Ukraine to wish George all the best with his fundraising in Nunney.
The street market was absolutely buzzing over lunch. Although attendance was clearly down on last year’s record attendance of an estimated 10,000 visitors, most stallholders reported strong sales. The Nunney Players were busy serving burgers and bacon baps and Castle Kitchen sold out of paella.
Nunney-based firm Whinberry & Antler proved popular again with their range of hand-drawn, hand-printed textiles and homewares. Newly-appointed member of Nunney Parish Council Lisa Ramsay sold a variety of delicious cordials at her stall. Steve and Dawn Cleveland of Nunney Carvings sold carved wooden ornaments and said: “A big thanks to the two gentlemen who run Nunney Fayre. What a great day it was.”
Suzanne Whitelock of handmade notebooks and paper gifts stall Pulp Paper Heaven said: “After a soggy start Nunney Street Fayre was a great day and I’m so pleased to have braved the outdoors!”
Lydia Needle, who sold beautiful animal sculptures made out of felt and wool, said she had a “fabulous day” at Nunney Fayre. “I can’t remember a time I’ve talked so much or smiled so much, you are all so lovely. If you’ve not been to Nunney Street Market and Fayre before, put it in your diary for next year – it’s an absolute delight.”
All Saints Church Nunney hosted a variety of activities. Climbing the tower was popular as ever, and offered clear views across the castle for visitors to enjoy.
The village hall had arts and crafts stalls, while fairground attractions outside were very popular with younger visitors.
With Nunney Community Association’s new bunting – donated in memory of the late Felicity Beauchamp of Springfield House in Nunney – adding cheer to the whole event, Nunney Fayre visitors had a most enjoyable afternoon. According to some, the event was all the better for not being as crowded as last year’s fair.
After the fair finished at 5pm, an army of volunteers helped to clear rubbish quickly and remarkably efficiently. By 6.30pm the last stallholders left an almost spotless village.
In the evening The George at Nunney hosted live music and a barbecue in the courtyard garden. This new initiative was clearly much appreciated by those involved in the event as well as visitors on the day as an opportunity to unwind and catch up with friends after a long day.
Next year’s Nunney Street Market and Fayre will take place on Saturday 1 August 2015.