TV hit brings in big fat crowd to horse fair

Wayne Chapman working with his horse Ronaldo

Wayne Chapman working with his horse Ronaldo

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IT’S always a huge event – but this year’s Wickham Horse Fair may have been even bigger thanks to a hit TV show.

Crowds flocked from all over the UK to the annual fair, which dates back to the 13th century and is the oldest of its type in the UK.

Horses are led into the ring for sale

Horses are led into the ring for sale

And many visitors said Channel 4 hit My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding had sparked an interest in the ways of life of the travelling community who organise it.

Sarah Oliver, 18, from Horndean, said she was inspired to attend the fair after she fell in love with the programme. ‘I love it,’ she said. ‘When we got here we saw all these girls dressed up and it reminded me of the programme. I think it’s been brilliant today, I am going to make it an annual thing now.’

She was among hundreds who lined the streets of the picturesque village as horses were paraded along the streets.

The fair, which takes place in the village square every year on May 20, gives travellers the opportunity to trade horses and ponies.

Kimberley Triggs, 25, from Milton in Portsmouth, said: ‘People want to see if it’s just like it is on the TV. People want to see it for themselves.

‘I have watched it. It seems like they aren’t as bad as everybody makes them out to be.’

Meanwhile, traveller William Wood, 55, drove down from Maidstone in Kent to sell his ponies.

He said: ‘It’s the first time I have ever been here.

‘Everybody gets together and enjoys themselves.’

Police closed roads in the village for the day. The event dates back to 1269 from a royal decree and has been held every year on the same date since.

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