First, a little bit of history...To the fairs

 

In the early/mid 1960s London was a magnet drawing the young and hip in from the regions, shaking off the austerity of the post war 1950s and riding the peak of British wealth.

To the postersAs the decade drew to a close some of those incomers and their London friends left the city heading back out into the shires, and the quieter, slower life of village and market town.

Some settled in North Suffolk and South Norfolk, an open countryside of low hills and wide plains spotted with marsh and cut by fen, a region of few towns and many villages, with the River Waveney dividing one county from the other.

By 1971 a social network had developed in the Waveney area sufficiently large for a public event to be planned, which took the form of a medieval fair. This was the 1972to the photo galleries Barsham Faire. Four more followed culminating in the Last Barsham Faire of 1976. The money raised by the fairs was used to  run a variety of events throughout the region, including music, theatre, and childrens eto the graphicsvents, art shows and a travelling cinema.

In 1976 the first Bungay May Horse Fair was also held, the revival of an earlier tradition which had died out in the 1950s. In 1977 the second Bungay May Horse Fair was held and an ad hoc group participated in the traditional Eye Show. The following winter some of the Barsham crew and friends set up Albion Fairs, an attempt to take the fairs to the rest of the country,  though financial limitations kept them mainly within East Anglia.

The next six summers were punctuated by weekends of creativity and spectacle, as different groups and individuals organised their own fairs, supported by the amorphous core group known as Albion Fairs.

After 1982 the number of fairs dropped rapidly though smaller local offshoots persisted and Barsham and Albion's influence continue to be found in odd places today.

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To the Clarion website

This site started as a single page published in February 2003. With the support of a couple of photographers it expanded  in 2005 into a modest multipage affair and after that developed in fits and starts into its current form. Work and family commitments have so far stalled any further development but new photos have been added.

in 2008 we gathered together a physical archive - posters, publications, meeting minutes and more - lodged first at Suffolk County Records Office in Lowestoft and more recently moved to Norfolk CRO at Norwich Castle.

In 2009 an adhoc exhibition was thrown together for the Waveney Greenpeace Fair and in the following year we constructed a professional version as the focus of a gathering at Diss Corn Hall organised by Madeleine and Karen, which became a reunion of fair makers, performers and fairgoers. Next August Bank Holiday is the fiftieth anniversary of the first Barsham Faire. How are we going to celebrate that?

The Diss display became the core of the travelling exhibition which has become a fixture at the current generation of events such as Maui Waui, Weird and Wondeful Wood and  FolkEast. Every year Martin and Linda say next year will be the last, and every year they are persuaded to continue.

A vital element of the afterlife of the fairs is the Facebook group launched by John in 2013: Memories of Barsham Fayres, Albion Fairs, and the Waveney Clarion. With a current membership of nearly 600 it has developed into a continuing celebration of the community and creativity those of us involved in the events covered here were lucky enough to experience.  The celebration continues with those mentioned. Make more.

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Construction and content management courtesy of Martin and Mike, down in the western reaches of East Anglia, with hosting and technical support from Robert and Paul up in the eastern lowlands of Perthshire. New material  always welcome.