Earls Barton Rally & Country Fayre celebrated its 20th Anniversary in its usual modest low-key way, that is to say, hardly at all. Many of the committee have been with the show since it's predecessors at Houghton and Ecton, and as mentioned last year, several are now looking to take a back seat. Bob H was present at the auction lending a hand but Kim's Auctions were running the sale but still for the benefit of the rally. As usual, we took a few lots to clear a bit of space and did very well, thank you very much.
That said, I still managed to pick up a couple of useful lots which, one week on, are already two-thirds of the way to paying for themselves, even before the cheque comes in from Kim's. Graham, my neighbour for the weekend, didn't fare so well, but at least he retained some stuff to try and sell elsewhere for more. Overall, as often happens in Northamptonshire, prices achieved were generally quite good for a sale which at first glance, didn't seem to have that much of interest. Back to the rally, and again, I thought our sections lines were again not right, but whether that was because people pitched up without guidance, who knows. Enough to say that we were again pitched in what should have been a roadway, forced to park very close to our neighbour so I could fit the car in across the back of the caravan.
However, out the front, we had 10 metres of clear space between us and our facing co-exhibitors. This meant we were right next to the miniature steam and although our neighbours there were considerate, we did get a certain amount of smuts over the car and less so the caravan, which might have been avoided if we'd been pitched correctly. FFS, how difficult is it to follow what is an established plan? As a result, awning displays were spread over a total of 6 lines which meant no room for the military section up this end of the field and they were then split into three lots, some on the commercial line, the heavies up near the Fengate Forge tea rooms and some in no-man's land in front of the marquees.
Commercials were quite varied but forgive me, nothing we hadn't seen before. The car lines pretty much changed each day with a core couple of lines remaining constant, but I'm glad I caught the yellow Ford Taunus as it only came one day. Although very similar to the UK Ford Cortina, there's something about the front aspect that is quite different on the Taunus. The 100 years of Ford tractors was celebrated with all the Fordsons and later Fords being pushed to the front of the two lines. The first Fords were the MoM variants developed for the Ministry of Munitions which developed into the later Model F and then the N or Standard as it was commonly called.
However, the rarest machine on show was the Weeks Dungey New Simplex, quite a scoop for the rally. These are rarely seen out even at shows such as Newark. Stationary engines appeared to have a bit more room but numbers are still limited to avoid over-crowding, indeed one potential Lincolnshire engine man was seen climbing out of his classic campervan in order to be able to attend. The fire engine section was squashed in-between the stationary and steam engines this year, but overall, better for them to be on the main show field rather than tucked away on the camping field.
There was quite a diverse line up with Landrover and Range Rover appliances, a pair of modern Dennis, plus a rare Fulton Wylie bodied Bedford TK. Full-size steam engine numbers continue to hold up well despite the Great Dorset steam fair being on, however, next year may well be different if Michael Oliver's ambition to pretty much double the number of engines from 250 to 500 to mark the GDSF's 50th Anniversary comes good. Christ knows how they'd all be accommodated but good luck to him for trying. Miniature steam seemed a little down in numbers but still a diverse selection.
The countryside arena and animal area were pretty much the same as last year, with the Viking re-enactors doing the sword fights right amongst the public, which I thought was a bit cavalier (pun intended). Their village was more accessible this year and to be fair, they do live the life for the weekend. The Bernese carters did their usual thing in the ring, but I would suggest to their member who confessed to his friends within earshot of the public that he can't be bothered to talk to the public ought to review his hobby and PR strategy a tad. Perhaps there was a poster on the long line in the 1940s display about walls having ears that might interest him.
The only disappointment was that the very nice lady in the craft tent had given up producing miniature canal ware and art, due to a lack of suitable objects to convert. This is the only event we go to where we'd seen this sort of stuff, so the loss of this source of objects was a big hit to the missus. I reckon next year we might have to have a trip over to the Canal Museum at nearby Stoke Bruerne to see what they have to offer.