All the fun of the fair as travelling community turn out for first Wickham Horse Fair since the pandemic

DESPITE a quiet start, numbers at Wickham Horse Fair rose as the rain clouds were blown away and the sunshine came out.

Saturday, 21st May 2022, 2:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st May 2022, 2:24 pm
The annual Wickham Horse Fair took place on Friday, May 20, in Wickham Square and along Winchester Road, Wickham.

Picture: Sarah Standing (200522-5915)
The annual Wickham Horse Fair took place on Friday, May 20, in Wickham Square and along Winchester Road, Wickham. Picture: Sarah Standing (200522-5915)

Travellers from across the country took part in the village event, which has been running for almost 800 years - although it did not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

The traditional event, held annually in the village near Fareham, takes place mainly in The Square.

Members of the travelling community sell and race ponies and horses and host a funfair for families to enjoy.

The annual Wickham Horse Fair took place on Friday, May 20, in Wickham Square and along Winchester Road, Wickham. Pictured is: Sarah Carter know as Sarah the Singing Gypsy. Picture: Sarah Standing (200522-5608)

Horses ran or pulled carts down Winchester Road as the crowds looked on.

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Attendee Mick Best has been coming to the fair for around 70 years.

He was here today with his daughter Kerry Best, granddaughter Paige Hayfield, and friend Derek Paddon.

The annual Wickham Horse Fair took place on Friday, May 20, in Wickham Square and along Winchester Road, Wickham. Picture: Sarah Standing (200522-5831)

Kerry, from Copnor, said: 'It's something different, isn't it - there's lots of people we know.

'It's just a shame it's once a year - we love the Wickham Horse Fair.'

Roads in and around Wickham have been closed throughout the day, as have most shops in the town centre.

As well as a funfair with rides and vans offering sweets and hot food, a number of stalls sold items such as carpets, shoes, and crockery.

Browsing the stalls, Steve Miller said: 'I've been coming for about 10 years. It's great - just meeting everyone and having a day out.'

One of the stalls was hosted by Sarah Carter, who was selling her CDs.

Performing under the name 'Sarah the Singing Gypsy', the artist is inspired by country and western music, and says: 'I was brought up on country and western music - I like the stories it tells.'

She added: 'I've been singing all my life. My dad got me into recording.

'He was born in Portsmouth so it was his local fair. It's like our fair.

'We travel all the fairs, and sometimes I sing live.

'It's great to be back at the fair this year, as there's a lot of my dad's family here.'

Stood near the rides was Betsy Head, who came down from Southampton with her twin three-year-old daughters, Ivy and Delilah.

It is the girls' first time at Wickham Horse Fair, and their mum says that they're very excited about the funfair.

Betsy added: 'It's just the atmosphere.'

Paul Williams, chief inspector of the RSPCA, was in attendance along with his deputy Hannah Nixon to oversee the treatment of animals at the fair.

He said: 'It's been quiet - the weather may be keeping people out.

'The horses have been very good and we will be here all day. We attend every year.

'We are also attending with Wild Horses Welfare.'

Lily, Hollie, Kate, and Clare were at the event with their 12-week-old XL bullies.

Clare said her favourite thing about the fair is the 'community'.

She added: 'I like everyone getting together - I've been coming here since I was little'.

The fair - traces its origins back to a weekly market which began in 1269 - takes place on May 20 each year, except if it falls on a Sunday.