If you live in Nottingham, the first weekend of October can only mean one thing; Goose Fair.
What amazes me about this autumninal tradition, is that, if you live more than 50 yards from the outer boroughs of the city, then the chances are that you will never have heard of this event. It’s incredible that something so big, that has been alive and kicking for over 150 years is only known to people who have lived within the city limits.
For those who do not know (millions of you), Goose Fair is a mass gathering of the country’s travelling fairs. They come together like pieces in a jigsaw to form one huge fair. It assembles on the forest and the youngsters of Nottingham will almost wet themselves with excitement on the run up to their annual visit.
To give you an idea of how well loved this event is, back in my day, I used to get half day off from School (typically the Friday afternoon), to go. Goose Fair? It’s kind of a big deal. It was something that we loved, it signified a good time. The noise of the rides and the eardrum shattering volume of the pop music blasting from each ride. Guys blaring over the pa systems, “scream if you wanna go faster riders, scream!” The smell of fair food. Here we love mushy peas with mint sauce, hot dogs, burgers, candy floss (cotton candy), everything that you are not supposed to eat is available here.
Once you pass your teens though, it kind of doesn’t encourage the same excitement. I can’t decide if that’s because you have to pay for your own food and rides, as the Mum and Dad won’t put themselves through it if they don’t have to. Or the thrills just dilute as you get older and more worldly wise. I’ve always gone, I think in my forty odd years I may have missed six or seven. The excitement of the rides has waned a bit, but the noise and the smell, the atmosphere overall remains potent.
Now that I am a parent with a couple of children of my own, seeing them getting in a tizzy over Friday’s visit is like warm peek back to my childhood. I am excited to live it through their eyes. I am less looking forward to being asked to cough my hard earned for every single bright and shiny thing that my brood lay their eyes on. But the transformation of the world cuisines that are now available against standing and watching the braver residents of Nottingham as they are flung about on whatever machine of mayhem is claiming to be this years star attraction.
Talking of star attractions, I remember a year where the latest things were experience simulators. You’ve seen them; a white pod that looks like a prop from Star Trek. You climb in, get strapped in and then experience something like an off-road rally or a rocket flight. What you’re seeing and your reactions were available on monitors outside to amuse and attract the punters. The following year there were several of them. I remember that being a particularly disappointing year for the fair. It sailed dangerously close to becoming a VR fair where the disappointed and terminally ripped off patron wandered from one pod to another to almost experience a real thrill. How happy I was, when the big thing next year was a ball shaped cage, attached to bungy’s that fired people 300 feet into the air at over one hundred miles an hour. There was a small fish eye camera in the cage to catch every screaming minute of this ball blasting, health and safety-defying nightmare. Bravo I say! Roll on Friday.
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