Build another Barsham 9

Build Another Barsham

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Prepare to feed the five thousand and maybe more by canvassing for food stalls in the same way as craft stalls (see Craft) and with similar financial arrangements. A day in the open means ravenous hordes who go home if they can't find filling fare on the site.

Make a committee member responsible for organising the eats, sharing out fire sites, and finding a willing band to run a tea and coffee stall. Demand for tea can rival demand for beer.

Barsham, like all public events where food is sold, is covered by a battery of food hygiene laws enforced by local environmental health officers. A simplified version as follows is sent to all applicants for food stalls so that they arrive prepared.

Nobody likes rules, least of all us, who want nothing more than a free and easy atmosphere where people can enjoy themselves away from the complexities of 20th century life. However, nor do we want an outbreak of food poisoning or medieval scabs. So, here in a much diluted form are the Health Department requirements. Please respect them.


  1. Don't erect a stall without getting guidance from the person who is organising a ground plan. Food stalls have to be away from the lavatories.


  2. Serving and preparation areas must be easily wipeable and kept clean.


  3. Have two washing up bowls, one for washing hands and one for food utensils - and of course, soap, nailbrush, detergent, dishcloth, etc. Please use hot water. We will provide it from a central source if you can't provide it yourselves, but bring a safe coverable container for transporting the scalding water.


  4. Keep food off the ground - this means both stored food and food you are serving.


  5. Have a waste container by your stall and make sure that the waste is covered.


  6. If you want to sleep at your stall, make sure that your work area and your sleeping area are separated by some kind of partition. Keep animals away from the food area.


  7. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold (warm food is an open invitation to bacteria). Shellfish must not be sold at all.


  8. Have a First Aid Kit with you - Band-Aids, Dettol, and waterproof finger stalls. The St. John's Ambulance will be on site as usual for anything more severe.


  9. Wear clean medieval clothes - sacks and the like are unwise.


  10. Display your name and address clearly on the stall.


  11. Stalls must be erected by 6.00 pm on the day before the Faire to allow us to inspect them.



The Bar

If you want to sell booze you will need a special licence and this can only be obtained by someone already licenced for the sale of alcohol. There are two ways of resolving the problem. Firstly, the bar concession can be given to a local publican and he will apply for the licence, organise and man the bar. In return he will pay either a fee or a percentage of his takings.

Alternatively, you can choose the more profitable method of organising the bar yourselves, obtaining the licence through the local brewery from whom you intend to purchase stock. Magistrates courts will grant licences for the sale of alcohol without a personal appearance or representation by a solicitor if an application is made in writing a clear month before the date required. Allow about six weeks for postal and administrative delays.

Apply for a longer period of opening hours than you intend to keep as the magistrates are likely to cut the hours applied for. At Barsham we found that keeping the bar open at night can precipitate the kind of petty vandalism that is easily avoided during daylight.

Incubus Theatre as goblins
Incubus work tremendously hard amongst the crowd as well
as performing on stage, contact Oval House Art Centre

After trial and error we have found it best to pay a group to run the bar rather than rely on voluntary help. The temptation for volunteers to take liquid payment leads to disastrous results on accounting, change, etc. Also it has been known to cause certain helpers to miss the rest of the day's Faire due to falling into a premature coma after a morning stint on the bar. It pays to limit the range of drinks. An average requirement is:

  1. A range of bottled beer, including lights, brown and lager.
  2. Traditional bitter from the cask.
  3. Cider, draught if possible.
  4. Wine, again preferably draught.
  5. Soft drinks (although at Barsham we rely on stallholders to provide these).

Spirits are not recommended as the stock and its effect on noon day sun drinkers is difficult to control. The supplying brewery may require you to pay for a representative to be present during opening hours.


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