SPECTATORS and horse traders said this year’s Wickham Horse Fair was ‘quieter than usual’ as around 2,000 people packed the streets of the Hampshire village today
The village’s main street The Square was a thriving hub of equine activity as travellers from all corners of the country put their finest horses on show with traders staking their cash on those that caught their eye in the Hampshire sunshine. Despite the annual festival’s rich history, spectators and traders believed it was much quieter than usual.
Robin Smith, 56, from Waltham Chase has been coming down to the festival for the last 50 years since he was a boy. He said; ‘I was quite surprised when I showed up as there didn’t seem to be that many people around. It’s quieter than usual’ ‘It’s a nice get together kind of event but the fair itself has changed immensely over the last fifty years. There’s so much health and safety these days. ‘Thirty years ago you would not have seen the police.’
Police were patrolling the event in small groups but no incidents were reported during the celebrations with the patrolling officers acting more as a visual deterrent. They were joined by a team of nine specialist RSPCA equine officers and a vet from Red Wings Horse Sanctuary in case any animal should suffer an injury.
Fred Matthews, 90, a horse trader from Partridge Green in West Sussex said that the event was still bringing in the crowds but the trade was slimming.
He added: ‘There’s more people but enough trade here. There’s always good horses here and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen.’ Stalls catering to all elements of travelling life such as children’s dresses, toys, bomber jackets and jewellery were on display along the stretch of road. Susan Hormer, from Kent, was selling dresses at her stall and she also believed the fair was quieter than the previous years. She said: ‘It’s a little bit quieter this year but we keep getting the same customers and seeing all the same faces each year so it still feels like a nice family event to me. The event has been held on May 20 for the last 200 years.
The fair itself has changed immensely over the last fifty yearsRobin Smith, 56