by Katie Isham.
It’s that time of year again. As spring blossoms, posters start appearing on lampposts, school gates and parish noticeboards across the land. All advertising the greatest events in the calendar: the spring fair! (Merging into its summer relation.)
Now, I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between a fair, fayre or fête (I’m even partial to a jamboree), but I do know that they’re all glorious moments of existence. You will never regret going to a spring fayre. They pack together the greatest, simplest joys of humanity and invite you along be part of that community.
There are craft stalls, games, food, random tat to buy that you don’t need but can’t live without (shout out to the wooden bird on my kitchen windowsill), activities, music, animals, birds, a tombola, a raffle and most importantly of all: cakes! A maelstrom of homemade, lovingly iced baked goods of every description ready for consumption.
Okay, the cakes are always good, but actually there is something better at your local fair.
Every local fête is a four (ish) hour blur of activity, competition and crafting. But behind that is a team of people who dedicate hours of their own time to baking flapjacks, collecting smellies for the raffle, cutting the grass, stitching bunting or painting the Splat the Rat contraption. These heroes make the fun happen. They bring the smile to you when you win ketchup on the bottle tombola. They are so passionate about the cause they believe in and will talk to you about it all day, if they weren’t too busy rounding up the loose llamas from the mobile farm.
There’s a special fayre happening this Saturday: Sholing Valleys Spring Fayre.
I may be biased as Isham family feet have walked this site for decades, but this is the best of all the spring fayres. It’s set amongst the trees of Miller’s Pond Local Nature reserve in Sholing, surrounded by more than 20 acres of varied habitats. On the big field by the Study Centre, you’ll find the very rare species of striped gazebo growing this Saturday.
Nature is at the heart of this event. There will be stalls from the Hampshire bat group, falconry, wildlife art and other nature activities. Make a bird box or whittle a stick. Find out what the natural world can offer you and how you can help it in return. Sholing Valleys has a range of activities such as wild art groups, spring sessions, volunteering, children’s nature watches, foraging and even bat walks. Come along and talk to the team here to find out more. Your local nature reserve is for life, not just the spring fayre.
If all that sounds too environmental, there’ll also be the steam engine experts to chat to about heavy machinery and loud noises. And did I also mention a brewery will be rolling up with their barrels? Don’t mix this with the bouncy castle and we’ll all have a lovely afternoon.
Spring fête season is in full flow and a visit to Sholing Valleys will set you on the right path. With a refreshment in one hand and a knitted dinosaur (not to scale) in the other, look around the field and wonder at the joy of cross-pollination of community and nature.
Do you know of any other fairs on the horizon? Follow the gazebos and support your local heroes as they educate and entertain us throughout the summer months. See you down the front, of the cake stall.
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