20th May 2018
We visited the 6th Rackheath Vintage Fayre from the other side of the fence this year, as although my new workshop base is down, the building itself is not yet up, so all the engines are still rammed into temporary storage, and not freely accessible. We did, however, let the organisers know in good time, so they were able to let someone else from the reserve list fill our space, and that happened to be someone we know well, who was pleased of the opportunity as he's just started rallying again after a few years' break.
There was also a new show starting up near Diss which I think may have taken some exhibitors away, as I didn't think there were quite so many engines or tractors, although cars and motorbikes were still plentiful. Of the former, there seemed to be a few modern cars in the line-up which seemed a little out of place and half-a-dozen in the car-park that would have been better suited to the show. My favourite was the mid-1950s Plymouth, and I guess the oldest the blue Rolls Royce. Dotted amongst the cars were some great trikes which couldn't get into the tennis courts where the rest of the motorbikes were stood.
With the exception of the odd light commercial (Morris J-type van, Ford Stepside and a few VW Type-2 camper vans) in amongst the cars, the other heavy commercials were parked near the entrance on the hard-standing. What looked like an ex-Cooper's ERF LV and a Ford D-Series both in Newton's livery, joined the other local lorry, the Ford Cargo of Hastings Transport. The tailgate on the D-Series proudly proclaimed, "If only my wife was as good looking at this age"!
There were several radio-controlled model clubs in attendance on the tennis court, with a variety of subject matter from boats, through lorries, to Landrovers. The latter had quite a challenging obstacle course to navigate, particularly when you think the "driver" is remote from the vehicle. Across the way, those motorcycles and scooters that had made it in before 9.30m were on parade, including a BMW and Excelsior from the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum in North Walsham, which we visited later in the afternoon, well worth the effort if you're keen on bikes.
On the walk up to the hall, we spotted an early Eriba Touring caravan with pop-up roof which had been converted into an outlet for selling milkshakes "on the Moo-v" and it's accompanying VW campers. Just across the way, an incredibly docile Shire horse had set itself up to be petted all day long without batting an eyelid, 19 years old and with its owner since it was 9 months. The village hall itself contained just crafts and refreshments this year, but there were a couple of model displays in caravan awnings outside, together with a display of Norfolk whittling, which didn't seem to involve any complaints or moaning about anything at all, very strange compared to the west of the county!
Back on the main field, a few more bygone displays led on to the very sizeable Norfolk Military Vehicle Group display, and then on to the line of engines stretching across the back of the field. As once would expect from the Nice Society, there were some very nice engines on show with the odd bygone display set in amongst. At the far-end the Norfolk Mini Tractor Pullers were in their element with their mini-sled doing their utmost to rev the guts out of their engines, but as far as I know, nobody blew up. There was a small but diverse display (in terms of makers) of full-size tractors set facing the ring.
There was a small selection of stalls, selling a few collectibles, autojumble, etc. I did hang my nose over a few signs, but they were all modern repros, and compared to Norwich a few weeks ago, no particular bargains. Further up, a small fish and chip van plied its trade next to the burger and hot-dog stall, followed by the bar (nice pint of IPA, by the way) and ice-cream man.
My only criticism is that pay-gate and car-parking could both be better organised, however, this is very dependant on volunteers and from the people that I know which I saw helping out, these must be in short supply. If the cars were parked closer together (without being silly), they might get in another 10-15% more vehicles, which is important as by 12-noon, it was effectively full with people driving around and then out as they couldn't find a space. This was only a peak-time issue, as the problem eased shortly afterwards as early visitors came and went. However, we look forward to being back the other side of the fence in 2019 as an exhibitor again, date to be confirmed.