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Fair stays faithful to founders vision


Gymnastic performances from young offenders were among the different attractions on offer at Bingham’s first town fair in 1976.

More than 30 years on and the event still lives by its original principle — to bring together the community and its various organisations.

Mr Joe Phillips (73) of Fisher Lane, Bingham, was among those who organised the first fair on July 24, 1976.

He recently came across the programme and a newspaper article from the first fair so has been looking back at its original attractions, which included some organisations that no longer exist.

There was a mining exhibition by the National Coal Board and young offenders from the former Whatton Detention Centre and Lowdham Grange Borstal, then youth custody establishments, gave gymnastic displays — which proved to be one of the highlights of the fair.

Pupils from Toot Hill School, Bingham, gave demonstrations in chair caning, pillow lace making and embroidery.

The first fair, then called the summer fair, was officially opened by the Duke of Rutland.

Mr Phillips, a retired salesman, was a member of the Bingham Community Association, made up of half a dozen residents who organised the event to bring together various groups and organisations in the community.

Mr Phillips said they never realised how popular the fair would prove to be and that they would be running such an enormous event.

They originally thought it would be a small event in the Market Place, but it was extended on to Robert Miles Junior School field.

He said: “When we put this together all the organisations had a similar goal — to attract people to their stall to promote their organisation.

“I think it had this affect that people realised various organisations were part of Bingham. We were all part of the Bingham community.

“It just exploded. It was tremendous. The sense of achievement was unbelievable.

“I must confess, I’m very proud of it.”

The 1976 programme said: “The objectives of the organisation are firstly to create a community spirit in Bingham by promoting an interest in local activities and local organisations already in existence who do necessary and worthwhile work.

“Secondly, we hope to provide facilities for Bingham by the effort of the people of Bingham by means of organising money raising activities for the community.”

Mr Phillips was also a founder member of Bingham Folk Club, formed in 1973, and performed at the first fair wearing a cowboy hat — a style he is renowned for.

He initially had reservations about getting involved with the association because he attended various other committees but despite the heavy workload, he enjoyed being involved.

The group used money raised from the 1976 fair to pay for Bingham’s first public noticeboard, by the Co-op store carpark, at a cost of about £150.

Mr Phillips said Bingham was now a dormitory town for some residents but praised the town council, which organises the town fair, for still bringing the community together.

He said the fair was also an event that could be enjoyed by the whole family.

He said: “I really am amazed when you look around and it hasn’t changed that much.

“It is part of its appeal because kids can go there along with their parents and they can enjoy themselves together.”

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