A look ahead to the Newburgh Fair.

Rose Queens at the fair

Rose Queens at the fair - Credit: Archant

A celebration with its roots in the 14th century is still going strong, thanks to dedicated villagers.

Rose Queens at the fair

Rose Queens at the fair - Credit: Archant

MEMORIES from 40 years ago will flood back for Karen Bailey this month when she officially opens the Newburgh Fair.

As Karen Buckle, she was first Rose Queen when the community event was revived in 1977 and she returns this year as the organisers mark this special anniversary with a week-long series of events starting with a Ruby Ball on June 17 and culminating with the fair on Saturday, June 24.

The fair has its origins in the 14th century but reports from Victorian times said: ‘The annual cattle fair has lost much of its old prestige, but it is still celebrated with a great ingathering of the countryside for the amusements provided. The stalls and booths are erected on the village green, on a little knoll where are some remains of the ancient cross. Fairing cakes, like Eccles cakes, are made and sent to friends.’

It eventually died out but was it was back with a bang in the 70s when it was revived by a group of residents led by the then vicar. It was a scorching hot day and the whole village turned out for a procession which included floats from every street, road and lane. A ploughman’s lunch was served on the field and the afternoon’s events included a children’s pet competition, maypole dancing and a tug of war.

Newburgh morris dancers

Newburgh morris dancers - Credit: Archant

The first organiser, Geoff Cowap, recalled that tickets cost just £1.50 and were even cheaper if bought in advance. ‘I sat in a caravan we used as the office on the school field counting the pennies as they came in and jumping for joy when we finally totalled enough to cover the cost of the marquee and the live five-piece dance band.’

It has run continuously since then thanks to the efforts of many volunteers from the village. ‘We are planning an extra special fair in 2017 and expect to welcome around 2,000 visitors to the village,’ said Fiona Casey, chairwoman of the Newburgh Fair Association.

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‘As part of the celebration we are delighted that the first Rose Queen, Karen Bailey, will open the fair and several of her successors will be taking part.’

The procession will take a 1977 theme with floats featuring elements of Star Wars, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and disco fever. ‘We are extending the hours to 6pm on June 24 to allow more entertainment to be included,’ added Fiona.

Packed programme

The programme for fair week is - Sat 17 June 7pm: Black Tie Ruby Ball; Sun 18 June 1pm: The Great Get Together – villagers are invited to a giant neighbourhood picnic as part of the national event to commemorate Jo Cox MP; Mon 19 June 3pm: Over 60s Afternoon Tea; Tues 20 June 7pm: Douglas Valley Lions bingo; Wed 21 June 7pm: Houghton Weavers concert; Thurs 22 June 7pm: PTA Ladies’ Night: Sat 24 June 12pm: Newburgh Fair including street procession; Sun 25 June 10.30am: Family Service. All events are held in a marquee and on the field of Newburgh School, Back Lane, Newburgh WN8 7XB. For more go to www.newburghlancs.co.uk