Every few years I manage to wangle a day off work to attend Lincolnshire Steam & Vintage Rally on the Friday, and 2016 was one of those years. With work looking pretty empty for the Friday of the rally, I put in for my final spare day's holiday, and got it approved. Then everything came in at once, and we were flat out, but hey, holiday was booked and accepted and I was having it. Fish & chips for tea at Frank's Fish Restaurant on Lynn Road after work, then off to collect the caravan and we were off, off into the face of what looked like it was going to be a tempestuous weekend, weather-wise.
Having arrived with just enough daylight left to get the awning up, we had our choice of pitch and decided to set up with our back to the fairground which is usually the direction the weather fronts roll in. The morning dawned a bit breezy but Ok, but is wasn't long before the rain rolled in and through, so spent the time getting the display set up, and then it seemed bright enough around lunchtime to get out to try to get some photos of the commercials. Showers followed, back to the caravan, out again just before tea, more showers, and out again about 7-ish to try and get a few more pics before the light failed.
Saturday followed a similar pattern, but was much windier, and the wind was blowing straight from the south and rough but again we managed to get out late morning to look at the cars and motorbikes, and again in the mid-to-late afternoon to capture the stationary engines, tractors, horticultural and full-size steam. In-between we came back to the awning to find one corner partially collapsed, aided and abetted by the storm strap bearing down on the frame, but caused by the wind veering around to that front corner. This had caused the strap to come loose but Gordon had tightened it up in our absence, thanks very much.
Sunday morning saw me at least looking around the model hall and taking stock of the rest of the bygones, maybe some new blood next year as at least three exhibitors failed to appear within the outside awning displays. Mid-afternoon Sunday saw me mopping up the miniature steam for pictures for the website, and finally time to relax, thank God for arriving Thursday night to have Friday free. Somehow in-between we managed to look around the trade stands but apart from a couple of scale model steam engines and a few plants from our preferred nurseryman, nothing really caught my eye. I hummed and hahhed over an oil tin but the price put me off, good thing as a week later I came across the very same tin already in my collection as I changed the display content ready for Earls Barton.
The weather I've hinted at so far no doubt put off some exhibitors, as the commercial line was nowhere as long as last year's record turn-out. Cars seemed fewer in numbers but looking at the photos taken each day, different people came on each of the days. There were only a few gaps in the tractors, horticultural numbers looked strong as did both the stationary engines and motorbikes. Miniature steam may have down slightly but full-size seemed the same as usual, and although it was very windy the rain didn't affect the ground at all.
One major gap in the fairground was the Wall of Death but this was soon covered over by organs and showman's engines. The weather did affect the public attendance, however, as there was just not the footfall around that we normally see and I would think public camping was hit as well. One sure-fire sign of this was the fact that we were able to drive straight out just before 6pm with no wait at all, unprecedented at that time of day on a Sunday.
But the show content was as good as ever, still one of my favourite rallies and a do-not-miss-at-any-cost rally for me. With the exception of no veteran tractors, the variety of stuff on show is the best we see each year and the venue continues to be well-kept and maintained. The older toilet blocks in particular have been re-roofed, repainted and kitted out with new glazed doors instead of the old shed-style doors in recent years. My only regret is that the EPIC Centre, the new exhibition hall put up some years ago, which I've not yet been into, is not used for this event, as I think that could showcase some of the best exhibits from most classes of the show.