Tuesday, 30 August 2011

News - Sheffield Fayre 2011: History comes alive

THOUSANDS of people flocked to the annual Sheffield Fayre for a summer extravaganza of history, horrors and horticulture.

More than 600 historical re-enactment enthusiasts have been camped out in Norfolk Heritage Park since Friday, living in authentic period camps and recreating dramatic battles.

The 11th annual Fayre, a two day event - Sunday and Monday, August 28 and 29 - also features a large gardening show and competition, 1950s illusions such as ‘the horrific Monster Girl’, and dozens of stalls and funfair rides.

Around 25,000 people are expected to attend the free event over the two days.

The actors’ mission is to recreate famous battles from Roman times through the Middle Ages to World War Two, wearing authentic costume and living in period tents.

John McConnell-Smith, from Halfway, visited with with wife Rachael and six-year-old son Thomas.

“It’s a great day,” he said. “This is much better than I thought it would be. The re-enactments are really good.”

Jane Ibbotson, from Stannington, had brought along her grandson Finlay, five.

She said: “It’s the only event I come to in Sheffield, and it’s very good.”

“It’s great for the lad. It’s a nice day and it teaches him something different.”

Christian Sprakes, a telesales worker from Bentley, Doncaster, was among the re-enactors attending the event with the American Civil War Society.

He said: “We do about six or seven major festivals every year and Sheffield is very good, because you get lots of different period groups here.

“Our members come from all across the country, from every walk of life.”

William Brown, a tattoo artist from Edinburgh, was playing the role of the commander of the Confederate Battalion.

He said: “We go all over the country but this is a great event, it has a great atmosphere.”

In the horticultural show tent, green-fingered residents entered competitions in more than 100 categories, from best chrysanthemum to largest marrow to finest homemade wine.

Horticultural show steward Gill Capewell said: “This show is a celebration of all things home-grown. We want to celebrate the community spirit in Sheffield, and welcome more entries next year.”

But organisers raised concerns about whether there would be a Sheffield Fayre next year.

Event organiser Claire Taylor, the council’s parks area officer for east Sheffield, said: “It’s been going really well. The weather has helped - at one point we thought it would be very wet.”

She said there were doubts as to whether the council could afford to run the event next year because of funding cuts, but added: “We think it’s very good for this area, there’s not a lot else that happens like this.”

Arbourthorne ward councillor Jack Scott said: “It’s been a fantastic day and it’s great to see so many people here.

“I think events like this really put Sheffield on the map. We want to do everything we can to support it.

“However, the massive government cuts have an impact on everything the council does, so we are going to have to look really hard next year at all our priorities.”

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