HORSES took centre stage at an annual traveller fair in Wickham.
Thousands of travellers from all over the country descended on the town for the Wickham Horse Fair, which has been held for many years.
Roads were closed to allow horses of all colours and sizes to be paraded, and motorists advised to avoid the area.
The busy event, which often sees rowdy behaviour - including a brawl in one of the streets last year - passed without trouble and there was a large police presence to ensure safety.
Wickham Horse fair, which was also shown on Channel 4 TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, does not have an official organiser, but the authorities worked closely with the police and other organisations such as the RSPCA to ensure the event ran smoothly.
A team of specialist RSPCA equine officers were in attendance at the event along with a vet from Redwings Horse Sanctuary.
RSPCA chief inspector and national equine co-ordinator Cathy Hyde said: ‘While the majority of animals brought to the fair are in very good condition, there are a minority of animals attending that do require our intervention due to concerns about their welfare.
‘We will be there to do everything possible to ensure that those animals receive the proper attention and care that they need and to make sure that the owners of those animals are dealt with appropriately.’
One man hoping to pick up a bargain was Vic Howard, from Paulsgrove.
Mr Howard, 70, has been coming to the fair for more than 50 years.
He said: ‘I come every year to see if there’s anything worth buying.
‘But it’s the people that keep me coming back.’
A funfair was held in the Square and as the fair is an extremely busy environment the RSPCA advised people not to bring their pets.
The council said the roads will be opened again on Thursday after the official clean up.
Police praise ‘smoothly run’ fair
Police have praised everyone who helped to make this year’s Wickham Horse Fair one of the smoothest run for years.
Chief Inspector Jason Kenny said: ‘There’s been a great atmosphere at this year’s Wickham Horse Fair, and I’d like to thank everyone who attended and the local community for helping the event run smoothly.
‘Policing of the fair this year was similar to previous years and the focus of our teams is very much on engaging with and talking to people at the event to ensure public safety and help prevent crime or disorder.
‘We’ll continue to maintain a visible presence around Wickham into the evening as people head home and the fair fully winds down.’