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Goose Fair

Goose Fair

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This section is in advanced English and is only intended to be a guide, not to be taken too seriously!

Nottingham's Goose Fair

Nottingham's Goose fair starts on the first Thursday in October and lasts for 3 days. However, nowadays you won't find any geese there.

The Fair is opened at 12.00 on the Thursday by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, but it has an interesting and sometimes shocking history:-

For starters, it wasn't always the largest fair in the area. A Charter granted in 1284 by Edward I authorised the burgesses of Nottingham to hold a fair on the eve of the feast of St Edmund and for twelve days following. Another fair mentioned was the St Mathews Fair held on September 21st which supposedly dates back to Anglo Saxon times. And the main fair for the people of Nottingham in terms of trade and economy was the Lenton Fair held at Lenton Priory from 1164 onwards.

In the middle ages Lenton Priory fair overshadowed the Goose Fair in size and importance, Harrisons Calendar of Fairs for 1587 mentions the Lenton Fair but not the Goose Fair. However, Nottingham competed with its local rival and every year over 20,000 Geese from the Fens in Lincolnshire arrived to be sold to provide the traditional Michaelmas dish. A saying goes:-

"He who eats goose on Michaelmas day shan't money lack or debts to pay."

It wasn't just for geese either. All manner of things were sold at the Goose Fair: sheep, horse, cattle, and, as at Weyhill Fair in Wessex with the wife-selling scene from Mayor of Casterbridge, women were also sold at Nottingham.

The fair has been under threat of closure many times over the years. In 1764 they actually had cheese riots, due to an increase of a third on the price of cheese compared with the previous year, this resulted in the outraged punters launching an attack on the stall holders at the fair. Huge cheeses were bowled down the street, with the frightened owners following them. Finally the Dragoons had to be sent in to control the mob after attempts to calm things down by the local mayor resulted in his dignity being flattened by a 100lb cheese.

By 1880 the fair was reduced to a three day event, which started on the first Thursday of the month. In 1928 the fair was moved from the Market square to its present site on the forest on the outskirts of the city centre. Despite attempts thoughout its history to prevent the fair, the income from rents paid by the showmen is financially beneficial to the council. So regardless of the cheese riots, and the various attempts from the killjoys, Nottingham Goose fair has survived to celebrate over eight centuries of fun.

Nowadays you can ride on some amazing fun fair rides, such as the Waltzer, the Dodgems and the Big Wheel. You can see photographs and a description of some of the rides at All the fun of the fair.

You can enjoy some interesting food too, such as Toffee Apples, Candy Floss and Mushy Peas with mint sauce. Who says English food is bad?


British Culture