Travellers to pass through dale in summer holidays for new Appleby fair date
APPLEBY Horse Fair will go ahead this year, two months later than the traditional June date to reduce the risk of “ad hoc” gatherings.
The Appleby Horse Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG) agreed to support the event taking place on August 12, when it met to discuss plans last Wednesday. The revised date is subject to potential changes in Government regulations and recommendations around large events.
Les Clark, chairman of the Appleby Horse Fair MASCG and deputy chief executive for Eden District Council, said: “In reaching this decision the MASCG has had to weigh many factors. It is preferable for everyone involved – local settled people, gypsies and travellers and the local authorities – for Appleby Horse Fair to happen on a set date.
“Had no date been set, there would be an increased likelihood of ad hoc gatherings, which nobody would be prepared for. While the Government roadmap currently states that large events can take place from June 21, it was the preference of the MASCG that a new date for Appleby Horse Fair be selected later into the summer to allow the vaccination programme valuable extra weeks to roll out.”
Appleby Fair is a traditional gypsy fair, attracting thousands from the travelling community and is considered the biggest in Europe.
Mr Clark added: “It is also important that everyone understands the reality of Appleby Horse Fair.
“It is a gathering and not an organised event. As such, we rely heavily on good faith and a positive relationship between the local, settled community, the gypsy and traveller community and all the supporting services and organisations involved.”
Mr Clark also stressed the date change will not set a precedent and the expectation will be that the fair returns to the traditional date in future years.
Billy Welch, gypsy and traveller representative on the MASCG, said: “While the gypsy and traveller community would have been happier for the fair to be held earlier in the summer, we are happy with the compromise date.
“Everyone will have the opportunity to plan a summer break in the UK, so it is important that the gypsies and travellers who wish to do so have the same opportunity.”