Wet weather fails to spoil the fun of Petworth Fair

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Petworth’s historic fair took place on Saturday night and drew in the crowds despite weather warnings and the arrival of strong winds and driving rain.

Its origins have disappeared in the mists of time and it has taken place in Petworth on November 20 (the day before, when the date falls on a Sunday) longer than the history books record.

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Organised by Petworth Society, its chairman Peter Jerrome said: “The weather dominated the fair this year, but it has survived against the odds for a thousand years, and this is the 31st since the revival, so it has proved itself to be very robust.”

It was heralded by town crier Nigel Flynn who proclaimed the opening of the ancient fair.

Activities began in The Leconfield Hall with a performance from pupils at Petworth Primary School.

“Nigel got us off in fine style,” said Mr Jerrome, “and the children gave their best ever concert so we had a really rousing start to the fair this year.”

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Spectators gathered for the traditional Punch and Judy Show and there was also a display of Petworth produced for the event by Miles Costello.

Members of Petworth Town Band performed a concert in The Leconfield Hall while outside Harris Brothers had brought their fair ground stalls and rides including the famous gallopers which suffered at the hands of vandals a decade ago who tried to burn them down.

“We weren’t able to have our traditional act of defiance when Petworth Town Band play Sussex By The Sea on the gallopers,” said Mr Jerrome, “but Harris Brothers weren’t put off by the weather and people did seem to come out to enjoy the fair in good numbers.

“They seem to love coming to Petworth because it is such a prestigious fair.”

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One of the oldest in the south of England, it dates from times when Petworth was an important cloth weaving centre in the middle ages.

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