Petworth Fair in November

Town crier Mike Hubbard after opening the Petworth Fair, along with darts stallholder Julie, who had travelled all the way from Hailsham for the event.
Town crier Mike Hubbard after opening the Petworth Fair, along with darts stallholder Julie, who had travelled all the way from Hailsham for the event.

ONE of the oldest fairs in England is set to return to Petworth.

But there will be a few modern twists.

The annual Petworth Fair still promises to retain much of the history and tradition that make it a success but, said Petworth Society chairman Peter Jerrome, “We have been doing the fair with the same format since 1986, and felt we needed a change.”

The extravaganza has been on the town’s calendar for nearly 1,000 years, dating back to 1174.

There will be a large exhibition of images in the Leconfield Hall entitled Images of an Old Petworth, but, Peter said: “We don’t want to give too much away – we want to surprise people. But it really is quite something.”

Nor will the fair be opened by the town crier, who is currently in hospital.

Peter said: “We wish him a very speedy recovery.”

And the entertainment schedule will also be updated this year.

At 7pm, in the Leconfield Hall, will be singer Carla Hendriks, singing a medley of songs and accompanied by a band playing swing and jazz music.

Also showcasing his talent will be Paul Stiles, on the saxophone, clarinet and flute.

There will be the usual Punch and Judy show and carousel and chairplane courtesy, as always, of the Harris Brothers.

Children from Petworth Primary School will also be on hand to entertain with a performance of their dance.

Traditionally, the Petworth Town Band has provided the musical entertainment.

Following the burning of the gallopers by vandals during the 2005 Petworth Fair, in what was called a ‘dreadful night’ by Peter, the band have played outside in an act of defiance.

“We have always been very happy with the band so it was a difficult decision not to have them this year,” said Peter.

The fair will take place next Wednesday (November 20) – St Edmund’s Day – in the Market Square.

“Petworth would not be the same without the fair,” added Peter.

““But it has to evolve. The Petworth Society will hand over the fair so it can survive for another thousand years.”

Funding for the event comes from proceeds of Petworth Society book sales.

It will take place in Market Square from 3pm-9pm.