Dancers, drummers, tractors, a twilight procession and even an elephant headed up festivities as a county town staged its revitalised Michaelmas Fair.
The elephant lead a procession of steam engines, vintage tractors, classic cars and commercial vehicles, to the soundtrack of commentary from local celebrity and petrol-head Fuzz Townshend, presenter of National Geographic Channel’s Car SOS and also a former drummer with indie band Pop Will Eat Itself.
The life-size Nelson elephant puppet was created by artist Bamber Hawes for the 250th anniversary of Bishop’s Castle Town Hall last year, and on Saturday was once more a centrepiece of the fair, which is one of the biggest events in the town’s calendar.
Festival chairwoman Liz Still said: “He hasn’t been out since the last fair, so it was quite an exclusive chance to see him.”
The procession was repeated at 5.30pm, and in the meantime Nelson took a tour of the town. The elephant puppet represents Clive of India’s links with the town, but also references the time a circus elephant lived in Bishop’s Castle during the war – footage of which, along with other decades-old long–lost films were playing on a loop at the Public Hall, while on Sunday the same venue hosted a tournament with a difference – a retro Nintendo N64 Golden Eye video game contest.
Ms Still said the day had been a huge success and was a continued vindication of the decision to stage the event on one day instead of two.
She said: “It has been a wonderful day. The weather has been wonderful and that always helps. there were brilliant crowds and a really lovely atmosphere, it has been great.
“The music is amazing, the classic cars were fantastic and Zu Aerial were awesome. Just to see the whole street full with people was fantastic, it was just lovely to see people out and enjoying it.
“The fair used to be held over two days and this is the second year we have done it like this and we have built on what we learned last year and it has been a real success. I think it is better condensed into one day. What is nice is it is a chance to bring things like Zu Aerial, street dancers, and others to the town that people would not otherwise get to see.”
At the Town Hall itself there were market stalls and an outdoor stage set up, with sets from Flying Toads, Joe Le Taxi, Emma and the Professor, The Sean Gaffney Band and Fight the Bear, featuring Bishop’s Castle’s newly elected councillor Jonny Keeley. Local bands with the About Music Project also played at the Six Bells, while there was more music from 9pm at the Crown and Anchor Vaults on Saturday night.
The auction yard had a tractor and steamer display, with a vintage jazz band and fairground rides, while on the high street Ubuntu African drummers, Hi- Frequency Girl Dancers and Raise the Dust Appalachian Dancers performed along with Zu Aerial Dancers, who took to a specially made rig to glide through the air, and offer anyone brave enough a go at doing likewise.
Zu Aerial Dancers capped off Saturday with a fire show dance, along with a lantern procession at 7.30pm and the annual samba band procession at 8pm.