‘I am here to tell the fair haters ... you are wrong’

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NOTHING seems to divide Thame more than the annual September Fair, does it?

Every year I hear the mutterings. ‘ Can’t park near the shops... should be on the showground... ruins the town’. Like those who say ‘I hate Christmas’ it seems that people have a problem with smiling faces and enjoyment.

Well I am here to tell you, fair haters, that you are wrong.

Even before I moved to Thame in the 70s my parents would bring me in to Thame Fair.

We would park round on the rec (anyone know why that stopped?) and I would whizz down the helter skelter and eat toffee apples. Sometimes at the same time.

A few years later and I was old enough to go to the fair on my own. It was all that anyone at school could talk about. The girls would dress up and promenade while the boys completely ignored them and played in the arcades. Actually, thinking about it, that might just have been me.

Occasionally we would venture on to the Big Wheel, which remains the scariest ride ever to come to town. You weren’t bolted in like nowadays and you would grip the iron bar for dear life while the seat threatened to tip you in to the top windows of The Swan.

When my kids came along we would take them on the small rides that you don’t notice until you are a parent. We would hook ducks, bounce ping pong balls off of bowls and try our best to get a ball in a bucket. Fun for all the family, I believe they say.

Last Friday night I went to the fair and all those memories came back. The smell of fried onions and candy floss, the flashing lights and gaudy paintwork, the screams as people went on ‘Storm,’ the thumping bass speakers. It overwhelms every one of your senses.

Not much has changed in the 30 years that I have been going to the fair.

And nor should it. It is perhaps the single iconic event of the Thame year. The show may have moved but the fair must go on.

So what if it takes a few extra minutes to get across town?

It is only three days out of 365. I do understand the effect on local traders and expect the letters page to be full of ‘shut up Thamensian’ letters next week, but I suspect there are far more people who love the fair coming in to town who won’t bother to write in.

Those who moan about the fair should be tied to a waltzer and force fed candy floss until they start enjoying themselves.

You are wrong. We, the majority, are right. Fair’s fair.