Axed fair a victim of its own success
Shipston has called time on its Wool Fair with the announcement that the event has been discontinued.
The town has a rich history of wool trading and its 8th Century name Scepwaestune, actually means sheep-wash-town in old English.
Many of the small alleyways found in Shipston’s town centre were originally the routes taken by sheep into the market square.
Since 2009 the Wool Festival has grown and grown, but that has put increasing pressure on the small volunteer committee tasked with putting the event on.
Bob Armstrong- co-founder of the Wool Fair, said: “We held our first Wool Fair in 2009 and its grown and succeeded beyond all of our expectations since than, our 2019 Fair celebrating our tenth anniversary was particularly good.
“Unfortunately a number of our voluntary committee members are standing down and we have not been able to recruit people to continue taking the event forward. It is a shame, but the people we need do have to have special skills, they need to have knowledge of getting the licences from DEFRA, making sure all the farmers have the correct certificates and assurances and we also need stockmen to handle the sheep on the day. It all makes it hard to recruit new committee members.
“The Wool Fair has grown and grown over the years and we thought that rather than try and put something on that might not be up to the same high standards as previous years, we would leave people on a high with happy memories from the last festival. In a way the Wool Fair has become a victim of its own success and we lack the resources to continue it.
“Forging links to its past as an old - “Scepwaestune”- Sheepwashtown, the Wool Fair has been an enormous success. It has raised awareness of Shipston’s history and links with the Wool Industry and local farming community; provided local crafts people with the opportunity to show and sell their wares; enabled local musicians to entertain and created a community event catering for all ages.
“The committee would like to sincerely thank all the many people who have been involved in helping make the Wool Fair possible each year. The event simply couldn’t have happened without all the dedication and hard work contributed by a wide array of volunteers from our local community.”
Bob added much credit should go to Angela Noyce, the late mayor elect of Shipston, whose hard work helped get the first event off the ground in 2009.
The Totally Locally arts and crafts markets which have taken place as part of Shipston’s Woolly Weekend will continue.