Poor turnout prompts shake-up of May Fair

The Mayor Cllr Isabel Hunter with Councillors and Aldermen walking the May Fair.

The Mayor Cllr Isabel Hunter with Councillors and Aldermen walking the May Fair.

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Mayor Isabel Hunter has backed plans that will attempt to breathe fresh life into the May Fair, one of Berwick’s oldest traditions.

She was speaking after the disappointing turnout at the Walking of the May Fair on Friday when just one trader - ‘The Flower Man’ - attended the traditional civic parade around the charter market.

“I did feel for the flower stallholder who was there on his own so it was nice to have a chat with him on my way round,” said Coun Hunter.

Berwick Town Council’s events committee has agreed to work in partnership with the Berwick 900 group on the project.

Derek Sharman, on behalf of Berwick 900, has already approached the council with some ideas for next year.

Their plan is to revive the May Fair, starting as usual with the Walking of the May Fair and extending over the bank holiday weekend, possibly incorporating the Party on the Parade, through to a community events day with street market and entertainment on bank holiday Monday.

Coun Ivor Dixon, chairman of the events committee, said: “A lot of people were disappointed with the turn-out of stallholders on Friday.

“It’s been a problem for a number of years now. Many of the stallholders have other commitments elsewhere.”

The intention now is to offer pitches free of charge to local charities and organisations.

“Over the next year, I think that if we can work together with Berwick 900 we could get lots more stallholders who could use the event for fundraising,” said Coun Dixon.

“I would love to see Berwick high street busy with stalls when the mayor walks up it,” he added. “It is one of Berwick’s important traditions.”

Coun Hunter said: “The Berwick 900 team have come up with lots of good ideas to help promote the town next year and this is one of them.”

The council had no objection to a break in tradition for the date of the Mayor’s stroll around the charter market stalls. It is normally held on the last Friday of the month but it will be brought forward a week to coincide with the bank holiday weekend which was last done in 1998.

Mr Sharman also hopes the event will include a mini-version of London’s Lord Mayor’s Parade by engaging businesses to form ‘modern guilds’ to fund and stage a procession.

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