June – Cambridge fairs

Cambridge traditionally hosts two very popular fairs in June, both held on Midsummer Common.  The first of which is called Strawberry Fair, which has been running annually for at least 30 years (with the exception of last year when it was controversially cancelled..boo!).

It is thought the fair was the brainchild of a group of ‘alternative’ students who felt that Cambridge needed a fun and less exclusive way of celebrating during the university May Ball season.  Initially the students are said to have booked Midsummer Common for two events, one on May Day and the other for the first weekend in June, the second event proved very popular and became known as Strawberry fair. 

Strawberry fair (a free event) has grown over the years to become a fun, colourful celebration with live entertainment and arts and crafts.  A film festival called ‘Strawberry Shorts’ is held the evening before .  These days the festival (which is run by volunteers) can boast it attracts up to 35,000 visitors to the festival site.  The eclectic mix of festival goers can also look round an abundance of stalls and food outlets whilst enjoying the relaxing ambience of the day.  If you would like to find out more about the fair take a look a this website http://www.strawberry-fair.org.uk/

The second fair to be held on Midsummer Common in June is the Midsummer fair, which this year is celebrating its 800th birthday.  The fair is thought to have originated from a previous celebratory event where tradesmen and buyers would meet, the event would include music and singing.

Midsummer fair gained recognition in 1211 by King John who granted it to Barnwell Priory who then owned it for the next 300 years. disputes over money lead to the ownership of the fair eventually moving over to that of the town itself.  In 1845 the fair moved to Midsummer Common, it had been situated close to the river but the birth of the railway meant that the river was no longer relied upon for goods deliveries.

The fair, as you would expect, is very different to its previous incarnations, such as being used as a centre for trade, as happened with most fairs around the 13th and 14th centuries.  The entertainment side of the fair now is also quite different to earlier fairs, which would include freak shows, wrestling and boxing, the modern fair includes the usual fairground rides and attractions of today.

to read more about the history of the fair look at this site http://www.midsummercommon.org.uk/papers/FairsPage.html which also gives of history of other fairs which have taken place in Cambridge over the centuries.


About Maria Explores...

Blogger and Freelance Writer
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