The origins of the Stokesley Fair stretch back to 1223 when Henry III granted Stokesley a charter to hold an annual fair. The third week in September now marks a busy week for this market town in rural North Yorkshire.
The fairground rides and attractions start to arrive the week before and within a few days they are in full operation. Hi-tech rides sit cheek by jowl with low-tech merry-go-rounds and fortune tellers, all mingling with the established Georgian buildings of the historic High Street.
Meanwhile, the Stokesley Agricultural Show is the big annual day for the rural community and visitors from near and far. The inaugural show was in 1859 and it and has run every year since, except between 1914 and 1919, 1939 and 1945 and, more recently, it was cancelled in 2001 due to foot and mouth disease.
Billed as the North’s largest one-day show, it’s a vibrant day out which appeals to all the senses. Visitors enjoy a varied array of trade stands, craft and gift stalls, food stalls, tea tents, and exhibition marquees showing everything from goats, chickens, rabbits, ferrets, and vegetables, to flowers and preserves. There’s entertainment aplenty including a quintessential brass band, the perfect accompaniment to the abundance of agriculture on display (as you might expect there are horses, cattle, sheep of every description, goats, horse riding and dressage). It’s a massive logistical exercise and is run with military precision.
A brilliant day out in the North.
Words and images By Paul Hunter