The Tewkesbury Mop Fair is yet another of the events on our calender unless there is a pandemic on! This year the Mop Fair was back and the people ventured forth to experience this annual event. This is the first year that I have ventured forth to have a look too because I will be honest these things do not really interest me.
A Mop Fair is really a hiring fair, and they were regular events in pre-modern Great Britain and Ireland where labourers were hired for fixed terms. These have been replaced by employment agencies. Farm workers, labourers, servants and some craftsmen would work for their employer from October to October. At the end of the employment they would attend the mop fair dressed in their Sunday best clothes and carrying an item signifying their trade. A servant with no particular skills would carry a mop head. The Mops at Tewkesbury were held on the Wednesdays of the week preceding, and following, that in which the Michaelmas Fair was held. Always located at the Cross,in the centre of Town the Mop fair was an important trading occasion, but always contained “elements of amusement”. Nowadays it is more about amusement with a side order of commercialism.
A proper description of the fair is available at the Tewkesbury Museum website.
In the course of my normal Saturday activities I ventured forth into town and the fair was already established, with Friday being the first day of the fair. It really consists of a number of fairground type rides, amusement booths, food wagons and all the noise, crowds and activity associated with it. It is the sort of thing that children enjoy while dragging their parents from ride to ride. My first visit was really early and some of the operators were still in bed or unpacking and checking their equipment, leaving me time to dawdle around and take pics. The one pic I took is really associated with the fair and ironically ended up hidden by a ride.
My pics are really about the Mop when it was quiet, and some pics taken later that afternoon when the rides were working. It is in the nature of the event that people will end up in the pics, and I have tried my best to exclude them wherever possible. The limitations were the position of the sun, closeness of equipment, people, obstructions and my own limitations of myself and my camera. This is really a photo essay so captions may not happen.
There were all manner of wierd and wonderful rides, some seemed to be relatively benign, but that was far from the truth as I saw later that afternoon. Naturally many things caught my eye, and a few old memories surfaced too.
Many of the rides were using famous Disney brands in their backgrounds, vehicles and branding, which meant a lot of repetition in the rides. I have to admit though some of the vehicles were really nice (now if only I was 50 years younger…). I kind of like the look of that helicopter in the image below.
And then there were these two that would definitely not be on my bucket list.
There were a number of food stalls selling the usual burgers, hot dogs, chips and assorted sticky food. Quite a few jolted my mind… Remember Coconut Ice?
and Toffee Apples?
And how can I forget Candy Floss? (aka “Spook Asem” (Ghost Breath) in Afrikaans) .
And then there were plushies galore to be won:
and then there was the undead…
Wot? no Mummies or Zombies? I want my mop back!
Over the page happened a bit later that afternoon when the rides were in operation and the crowds were not too huge. It had been a very interesting morning so far.
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