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Take A Gander At This Goose
Nottingham Goose Fair
Member Name: melodysparksuk
Nottingham Goose Fair
Advantages: Fun food thrilling rides, games, events, sideshows, and much, much more
Goosy, Goosy, Gander, to the Fair shall I wander
Up and down the sideshows in a state of wonder
Here I met a hawker his cries far and wide
So I took upon his offer and climbed aboard his ride
As the autumn nights start to draw in and you feel the nip of cold air towards the end of September, many people here in Nottingham begin to whisper the words "Goose Fair".
To people, young and old alike, a hint of excitement fills the air in anticipation of one of city's much-loved events. This year, 2012 marks the 718th fair, to put it in simple terms; Nottingham's Goose Fair is one of Europe's largest, non fixed, mobile fun fairs, filled with thrilling rides, games, events, sideshows, and much, much more. For those of you who have been you will know exactly what I mean.
From the first Wednesday each October for four days well over 1 million people visit the Forest Recreational Ground roughly 1 mile north of Nottingham City centre just off the A60 Mansfield Road and Gregory Boulevard to experience the thrills and excitement of one of the city's oldest traditions and largest social extravaganzas on the Nottingham events calendar. Millions of pounds exchange hands during those few seemingly short days but to the citizens of Nottingham and the surrounding area it is worth every penny.
WHAT IS GOOSE FAIR
At precisely 12.00 pm on Thursday 4 October 2012 in the company of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and other civic dignitaries, the Chief Executive and Town Clerk will read a Proclamation and the Lord Mayor will perform the Silver Bells ringing in ceremony before he/she "Walks the Fair" to officially open the much loved Nottingham Goose Fair.
What, I hear you ask makes the Goose Fair so special? Well to the people of Nottingham it is not just a fun fair, it is tradition, a memorable occasion, a place to see and be seen, excitement, thrills, fun and games and an all out brilliant excuse to have a good time. The fair evokes memories of childhood with the cacophony of sound from music, engine noise, screams from the rides, hawkers calling you to come and try their ride, a dazzling display of millions of lights, rich mingled aroma of food and the delightful taste of candyfloss and toffee apples and hot dogs.
But this is no ordinary fair its roots go back to the thirteenth century, if not before and is referred to as an established fair on the Feast of St Matthew in Edward I charter in 1284 and first mentioned by name in publications 1541.
Showman from all over the country travel to the city bringing their amusements and rides joining in the large assemblage on 18 acres of sporting pitches and park and ride car park with the fringe fair area along the side streets.
There are over 95 different rides and moving experiences for all ages including old favourites and many new attractions. This year some of the expected rides and thrills are Tsunami Roller coaster, making its first appearance at Goose Fair and that is already erected and hurtles you through of twists and turns. The Reverse Bungee that catapults you over 100 feet into the air although you will not get me on that. The 120 feet high, Big Ben Drop Tower where you ride to the tops and are dropped over 100 feet. Wild Water Rapids which is white water rafting up a 36 feet before shooting down a slide to crash into rough wild waters at the bottom. The Crazy Shake that will shake your bones until they turn to jelly. There are returning high-speed favourites such as Matter Horn, Frisbee, Hard Rock, Obiter, and Chaos for the thrill seekers amongst us all. Many of the traditional rides like the Carousel, the dodgems, the ghost train, and the house of fun, Helter Skelter, Swinging Chairs, waltzes, merry go rounds and everyone's favourite The Big Wheel (It has been known to have two wheels side by side on occasions).
There are over 200 games and stalls calling out to you to have a try to test skills and luck these attractions are my favourites, I prefer the sideshows to the rides, There is hook a duck, roll a penny, bingo, penny arcades, hoopla, tombola, darts, coconut shies, and many other sideshow games. Here you can also find a plethora of food stalls catering to many tastes including, a mixture of foods from all over the world. Many favourites are be found there, chips, hamburgers and hot dogs, candyfloss and toffee apples, nougat and brandy snap, Grantham Gingerbread, coconuts, cock-on-a-stick, Nottingham's infamous hot mushy peas and mint sauce served in little round dishes with either faggots, or pies and gravy or as I like them on their own. Also are an assortment of seafood stalls offering mussels, prawns, crab stix, cockles and other marine favourites and not overly expensive.
Fringe Fair sees attractions, gift and novelties stalls with all those cheap little, games, toys the kids love booths and fortune-teller caravans where you can always find the "Authentic Gypsy Rose Lee or Gypsy Rosa" line along the side streets surrounding the recreation ground.
Preparation for this years fair began by the city planners in November last year only weeks after the previous event, booking the rides and stalls and organising ahead the transport facilities and security. The plots for the attractions have been marked out since August and during the last week the big rides, began setting up. I passed by yesterday and the large roller coaster is almost completely erected as is the Wild Water Rapids and this year looks to be one of the biggest fair the city has seen.
Goose Fair has been immortalised by Nottingham born author Alan Sillitoe in his books Saturday Night, Sunday Morning that was later turned into a movie with Albert Finny. Alan Sillitoe's Nottinghamshire book: where he returns to his birth county to revisit the places of his youth, and in the 1955 movie 'A woman for Joe' the story of a fairground midget who falls in love with a local woman.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In the thirteenth century the Goose Fayre was far different from what we see today, to put it quite simply it was at that time an autumn market held in the Old Market Square. Guildsmen and traders erected makeshift stalls to ply their trade or sell their wares from cheeses, hams, bread and other food stuffs, farmers built pens holding the animals herds and geese in flocks, fat and ready for slaughter. Much of the produce was local and sold at the times where people stocked up for the coming winter. It is unknown exactly where the name originated but one favourite belief is from the geese farmers in the fens of Lincolnshire and Norfolk who drove their flocks of geese to the fayre in time for the feast of St Matthew and the up and coming winter celebrations.
However as the years passed the fayre began to change, along came the minstrels and tumblers, the jugglers and the punch and Judy shows, acrobats and unusual animals turning the then 12 day market into an annual entertainment event. Comedians, clowns, dancing bears, bearded ladies were often seen and Madam Tussaud brought along her an exhibition from Wax Work Museum. However, the development of railways people did not have to travel so far to buy their stocks for winter and slowly the market side began to dwindle and the duration was reduced to 3 days.
The fair began to adapt even more, with the development of steam power provided by large musical traction engines, steam-turned merry-go-rounds started to appear, along came novelty spectacles, cages of wild beasts never seen before in this country, theatrical wonders and entertainment and slowly the autumn market turned into a fun filled social event. With the advent of electricity attractions like pictures shows and the "new-fangled" camera obscurer, catapulted the fair into the 20th century. The rides became faster and bigger more sophisticated, noisier, more thrilling and the showground attractions became busier and larger until when in 1929 the fair needed to be moved to its present location, directly one mile north.
GOOSE FAIR AND ME
My memories of Goose Fair as a child are a muddled but I do remember my Mum taking my younger sister, brother, and I at night. I recall how we pushed our way through the crowds holding on to each other making our way weaving through the throng of stalls selling such heavenly delights as candyfloss and toffee apples. The ground beneath our feet was soft with the rain from the previous night and smell of the food and the diesel generators that powered the rides filled the air. The rides whirled around with the music of Suzie Quattro with Down at the Devil Gate Drive and Sweet with Blockbuster, Rod Stewart's Maggie May, Alice Cooper and School's Out and many other hits from the 70's.
There were side shows attractions as 'Tiny Tim', 'Britain's Tallest Man' the two headed horse or the boxing booths and the wall of death where a motor bike rider raced his way around a small circuit with graduating walls until he was almost riding around the lip of the circuit. I remember the roll a penny game with the bright red painted slope and holes at the bottom where you hoped to win a prize if it went the right hole.
Handling three growing children with the cries of "Can I go on this? Can I have that?" and trying to keep us all together so none of us would stray was a trying time for my Mum that I am sure she couldn't enjoy the occasion herself but I hope I have made up for that when I have taken her in the years since. Thanks Mum for a great childhood.
Last year I took Mum and my friend and his son on the Saturday morning of the 2003 fair and we walked around taking in the atmosphere watching the little one have fun on the rides and just enjoying the event and watched how the site slowly became busier and busier.
Memories are there of being jostled around on the roundabouts with the clanging of bells and tooting of whistles and my face becoming sticky by eating candy floss as I gazed around feeling a thrill flow through me at all I saw that even today I cannot forget and I still feel that thrill when I see the fair. It is crowded with thousands of people, I don't care. It is noisy filled with screams and throbbing music, I don't care! The flashing and whirling lights from the rides blind you and make you dizzy, look, I just don't care!! The smell is a mixture of food, heat, and generators, I DON'T CARE!!!! This is Goose Fair; I am here to have fun. I want to ride on the Big Wheel; I want to play hoopla and darts. I want to eat hot dogs and hot peas and get sticky with toffee apples and candyfloss. I want to have a good time.
I know it sounds daft but Goose Fair brings out the child in you perhaps that is why it has lived and I do mean lived as long as it has. At night when the fair is in full, swing the air around pulses with life almost as if the showground is a being in its own right. The generators throb through the ground beneath your feet almost like a beating heart, the music and screams from the rides vibrate through you, the unique aroma from the different smells are like a heady perfume and the whole makes it special.
Held annually from the first Wednesday of October for 5 days. Please note the dates vary each year.
Admission is free but all rides and games are chargeable.
Wednesday 3 October - 5.30pm - 11pm
Thursday 4 October - 12noon - 11pm
Friday 5 October - 11am - 11.30pm
Saturday 6 October - 11am - 11pm
Sunday 7 October - 1pm - 9pm
There is no public parking available at the Goose Fair Site it is recommended visitors use public transport with regular buses from the city centre at a cost of £3.20 for a one person return running until midnight, however the popular Goose Rider ticket will also be available again this year offering tickets for up to 5 people (maximum 2 adults) for a return journey to Goose Fair on an NCT bus from anywhere on the NCT City bus network for just £4. Well worth the value right there. Also For just £5 per car, up to 6 people can get a return journey to Goose Fair from Queen's Drive Park and Ride, with buses running every 7-8 minutes at the busiest times on Friday and Saturday.
Also available is the newly opened state-of-the-art NET tram, providing direct transport to the Fair. The tram offers free park & ride sites at Wilkinson Street, Bulwell, Phoenix Park, Moor Bridge, and Hucknall costing just £3.50 return per person or for a group or family up to two adults and three children you can purchase a Group Rider ticket for just £5.00. Just climb aboard and buy your ticket from the conductor. Be advised that the tram will be extremely full.
Goosy, Goosy, Gander, to the Fair shall I wander... Will I be there again this year? There is no doubt about that!
This review originally appeared on my Ciao account review site and is not copied from anyone else.
Summary: Nottingham's Goose Fair is one of Europe's largest, non fixed, mobile fun fairs