The day of the village fete is an important one in the life of a New Forest village. Weeks of planning and preparation go into making the event a success. In the days before the fete, cakes are baked, books and bric a brac are sorted, plants are potted up and dogs are bathed. Everyone hopes for good weather. Putting up the tents and marquees is a major job for volunteers, whose lives are made easier if the wind does not blow too hard.
On a weekend when rain came at last to the dry heath and woodland of the Forest, this year`s fete took place. Under lowering grey skies, villagers and visitors from the nearby towns came out in force. One thousand people bought entrance tickets in the first hour alone. Everyone wandered around the field, usually a grazing ground for deer, and looked for bargains and fun amongst the stalls and attractions. Neighbours met to chat and greetings were heard as familiar faces emerged from the crowd.
The music of an old fairground Carrilon drifted across the field. Nostalgic melodies of long ago rural fairs brought back the days of our great grand parents. The Carillon played away all afternoon.
Visitors were encouraged to have a go at turning the wheel that made the music play.
A brief history of this interesting old machine, which was built in Antwerp in 1920......
...and a photograph of the same machine, with its proud , sepia-tinted owners in its heyday in the 1920`s.
There were representatives from a local Alpaca herd, waiting to meet visitors. A nearby stall sold scarves and soft garments made from their beautiful, fine wool.
The rain clouds came and went. As curtains of rain swept down into the valley, everyone dashed for shelter into tents and under awnings, until the showers passed and business resumed again in the warm, steaming summer air.
Two friendly goats advertised the dairy produce of a local goat farm, and they proved popular with everyone.
At the Punch and Judy Show, children watched fascinated as the age-old show of extreme domestic violence was played out once again by the battered puppets of Punch, Judy and the Policeman.
There were swing boats.....
..and ferrets. These sleek animals waited for their turn to race.
The Ferret Racing pipes where bets would be taken and the ferrets encouraged to run their fastest from one end to the other!
The Dog Show was popular again. Most Handsome Dog, Prettiest Bitch, The Dog Most Like its Owner, Best Rescue Dog and the Dog with the Waggiest Tail won prizes and rosettes.
This young rough collie was there to meet crowds of people and dogs. His owner was very pleased with his calm behaviour . A lovely dog and one I could have taken home.....
Behind the stalls and marquees was the Classic Car Show. A line of much loved and restored old cars waited with their admiring owners.
This old Ford Popular was the same model and colour as the first family car that I remember. I was seven years old before we had a car. Before that, a weekly bus ride to the nearest market town, or a long walk to the next village, was the only way to get around.
Last but not least, the magnificent old Steam Roller that drew young and old for a closer look. I remember steam rollers working on the roads of rural Hampshire. This one will soon be on its way to the Great Steam Fair at Tarrant Hinton in Dorset, where Steam enthusiasts gather every September to look, listen and smell these mechanical reminders of the not-so-distant past.
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