The 18th Earls Barton Rally & Country Fayre had some nice setting-up days and a good Saturday for the annual collective auction but unfortunately Sunday was wet with light rain and drizzle and as I sit in the caravan starting to write this report (that's a first!), Monday is settling down to heavy rain exactly like it did last year. It' such a shame for Bob and his team that a great friendly event such as this should be hit two years on the trot, but there's precious little anyone can do about it other than soldier on. The committee experimented with the layout of the trade and awning displays this year to try and increase footfall around the field. In previous years, trade stands have usually ran in four or five rows across the field so that when public entered the event, they had to turn either left or right.
A left turn took them up towards the countryside area and a right turn led them up past the ring and on towards the vehicles lines, craft tent etc. This meant that people who "follow the herd" didn't always go up and down the two aisles of trade and another aisle of collections, which stepped down the field towards the miniature steam. This year the initial row of long-term attendee traders were still along the fence bordering the car-park (which incidentally still had a huge marquee set-up from a music festival a week back which the contractors had not removed as expected), but the remaining traders were in six or seven rows facing each other across a roadway, Approximately half-way down each aisle, the traders stopped and the line continued with four rows of awning displays and two rows of miniature steam. By and large, although we really only had Saturday to assess how well it worked, it seemed to go down well with those who spoke about it.
So from the good to the bad. Apparently, the event had a visit from the gas company responsible for a pipeline which runs under the show-field largely north to south, heading towards the busy A45. For the preceding 17 years, this has not caused any issues but this year, a visiting "jobs-worth" decreed that the stationary engine people couldn't camp above it, nor any commercial vehicles park above it. In addition, the old-time cinema tent had to be taken down and as far as I could see this was not re-erected and the vintage film shows did not take place this year, which is a loss to the show. However, the stupid thing was, cars were allowed to park on the same line, campers in the outlying fields did not seem affected, and of course, no-one stops the 44-tonne lorries "duelling" it out on the A45. Health & Safety gone mad, or do they have a problem with the pipeline they're not admitting?
The Saturday auction was reasonable this year, not quite so much stuff I wanted, but worryingly, every time you walk around you add another lot to the potential list, but all I brought in the end was a mixed box of glass and stone bottles to add to the display. Anyone who wanted a motor mower had a vast choice from almost a score offered, just glad my old one I used to mark out at rallies got away as it was a pain packing it in the caravan to bring it down, and it's too large for our garden at home. Luckily, with not bothering too much about the auction, I did manage to get around most of the exhibits Saturday afternoon to get some photos which was a good job as it was far and away the best day.
Working up from the back of the field, the stationary engines were in their usual position leading around to the Hyman family's small fairground, then on to the craft and entertainment marquee, which was pretty full. Caz added some more miniature canal-ware to her collection, I can see a model narrowboat looming somewhere along the line in the future. Backing on to the stationary engines were the classic campers and caravans, with the latter being a bit higgledy-piggledy. The commercials squeezed themselves into two lines, and although there seemed fewer, they were pretty much all still there on Monday morning. However, I did miss the fire-engine line-up which was outside the main show-field.
Cars and motorbikes were plentiful on Saturday, and there was even some different cars on Sunday but much fewer in number, and early on Monday only a hard-core survived, probably those who were staying on site. Tractors were in two lines in front of the ring, but were not back to back so getting front-aspect views of the second line involved a bit of squeezing and some higher camera angles. Steam engines were down the bottom of the field, leading into the miniature steam at the corner, then up to a small but diverse military section and on to the threshing and milling display. Slight amusement here as the sign said "thrashing & milling" but no signs of violence or wrong-doing.
This brought one up the countryside area which I didn't get to visit this year, but it normally has displays of crafts such as dry-stone walling, hurdle-making, gypsy encampment, model boat club, Bernese carters, a re-enactment group loosely based on the Vikings but this time repositioned so they didn't have the benefit of telegraph poles, Scouts climbing tower, etc etc. Hopefully, we'll get to have a look at that next year.