There were a few changes to the layout of the 2015 Holbeach Town & Country Fayre which helped consolidate last year's successful event on the new field. Access to the main ring was via a dedicated lane accessed from the perimeter roadway which ran around the whole site, and the large marquee was placed on the opposite side of the field to the public entrance which I think drew people into the field more. We took a bygones display this year and were fortunate enough to be on the main walkway across the field so caught plenty of people, and came away with some additions to the display as well. The vehicle displays were more or less as last year with rows of commercials, classic campers and caravans, and then cars bridging the gap to the line of bygones, crafts and motorcycle compound.
Next came the main ring in front of the bar and entertainment marquee which also housed a handful of model displays each day. Between the ring and the public entrance, the line-up of horticultural machinery faced the crafts and bygones, and this was perhaps the only area that was a little cramped up, and could have been spread out more along the available corridor. On the far side of the ring, the large machinery dealerships had proper trade stands that did tend to hide the smaller stalls a little which are still laid out in half-a-dozen short stumpy rows. To the south of the stalls, the Ford & Fordson Association had a display of mainly Fordson E27N & Major-based models, and then there were 5 or 6 rows of classic tractors arranged on the slant once again. To the north of the trade stands, there were half-a-dozen different catering outlets to provide plenty of choice for visitors.
A small selection of amusements bridged the gap to the stationary engine line which formed the eastern edge of the public arena with camping behind. As has happened in the past at several shows, the area allocated for the barn engines was not quite sufficient and another small compound had to be added in front of them, but at least there was plenty of room to do this. The engines ran the whole width of the field to meet the steam engines which then led up to the southern edge to meet the tractor lines. Holbeach had the best selection of steamers for some time and even managed a steam-driven threshing machine display, albeit non-working, and the 5 full-size and 2 miniatures were also joined by a diesel-engined roller.
The self-proclaimed World Cabbage-Hurling competition returned to the main ring this year which certainly gave it more prominence but it and the other activities such as the tractor tug-of-war etc. could have been better interspersed with the vehicle and machinery parades throughout the day. Some classes can always parade twice if time allows, and personally I thought the arena programme ran out of steam too early in the afternoon on Sunday, which led to people drifting away. Spalding Ambassadors Marching Band appeared on Saturday but are unable to entertain Sunday due to other regular commitments. Vehicle-wise, it was good to see as many buses and coaches at Holbeach as I saw at Rushden earlier in the year, as they're often almost excluded from a commercial vehicle line-up. There were one or two unusual machines on show including the rear-tailgate low-loader on the back of the Commer tractor unit and also the Alum Bay Glass liveried Chevrolet van.
The red Morris tipper looked a hefty machine and the more modern silver Volvo F7 tipper no doubt could carry a bigger payload on a shorter wheelbase. The Billy Smart's Circus Foden crane on the back of the ERF low-loader was also a bit of a treat. Classic campers were pretty ordinary to be honest, but they all getting older, but there was a good selection of classic caravans on show, many with attendant classic cars. There were some nice cars with a different selection each day, and one of Sunday's participants looked very familiar, and yes, it was the bright yellow 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air restored by TV's Wheeler Dealers. Holbeach & District Grass Track Racing club also had a very good display of cars on show. The motorcycles had their own compound as usual are were swelled by a few extra visitors on Sunday.
Horticultural machinery included examples of Newman, Singer Monarch, BMB President, Ransoms, Trusty and Barford Atom amongst others, and there were also several displays of tools and equipment including Jalo. Bygones included horse brasses and old bottles, and model displays included radio-controlled boats, American-style model railway locos and carriages, matchstick and diecast models. The tractor section had quite a few gaps on Saturday due to exhibitors working that day or attending other events but filled up nicely on Sunday.
Perhaps the most unusual machine was the Morris 8 based grass-cutter which makes a bit of a change as these conversions are so often based on Ford Model T or occasionally Austin 7 vehicles when seen. There were several different crawler tractors on show but the big International-Drott seemed to be in tune with the field as it felt like a mini earthquake sitting in the caravan awning as it passed by 30-feet away in the roadway. All-in-all a good weekend with good company and lots of banter, a few bargains from the stalls and ready to do it again next year.