Andy Lakin-Hall writes...
The Rotherfield Summer Fayre took place in the garden behind the Kings Arms Inn in Rotherfield on Sunday 8th July 2012.
From very early on in the planning stages we wanted to make sure that we created a Village Fayre in a traditional format, with contributions from as many community organisations as possible. Jo Evans and myself met with Kim from the Kings Arms and Kristy Wilkinson to try to put together an event that would include the whole community, and perhaps form a model for future events. We went right through all the contact lists we had to come up with an initial invitation list. Although some groups could not attend, we eventually had a list of thirty seven stalls including several businesses, both local to Rotherfield and from further away.
Not having organised an event like this before, we had no idea about financing the Fayre. We were fortunate to receive a grant from Wealden District Council under the Wealden Welcomes 2012 Grant-Aid Scheme, a grant from the Police Fund, and several smaller donations made by individuals. Amy Murphy, our Tesco Community Champion, donated the refreshments and agreed to help out on the day. We were very grateful for all the prizes donated, particularly to Saga for donating a Advent Baltic Cruise, and also to Hever Castle, Knockhatch Adventure Park, Paradise Park, Leeds Castle and Wilderness Wood who all donated entry tickets. Mark Cross Inn gifted a meal for two, while the Assembly Hall and Trinity Theatres both gave tickets for upcoming shows. The Pet Food Shop and Sussex Garden Centre helped with prizes for the Fun Dog Show, and Waitrose provided a very good bottle of wine. Thanks to all our generous donors, who helped to make the Fayre possible.
Early on the morning of the Fayre the rain held off, and we were able to get ourselves pitched and set up in the dry - scouring the village for gazebos to keep the rain off. Just as the Fayre was started at 12pm the rain started to fall, but Mayfield Silver Band performed valiantly and we held the Fun Dog Show in between the showers. The rain stopped in time for the arrival of Mark Cross School with their lovely maypole dancing, and this was followed by Spacehopper races, with medals and prizes for the winners. Stallholders discarded their umbrellas and the crowds increased. The Village Pre-School provided beautiful face painting, and business on the bouncy castles boomed. We held the Water Rocket Challenge in warm sunshine, as children from Rotherfield and Mark Cross Schools competed against individual entrants to launch the best Water Rocket. Thanks goes to the trustees of the Millennium Green for granting permission to hold this event on their Lower Wallis field, away from the rest of the Fayre, but still on the same site. Thanks also to Mark Hall of the Bonfire Society for manning the air pump for me while I set rockets onto the launcher.
In the middle of the afternoon, and in lovely sunshine, the bells rang out from the church tower and an entire wedding party from St Denys' Church came over and joined in the Fayre, dancing to music from the "Remnant" band. After the raffle we had more music from the "Hot Potatoes" band right up to the finish. The sunshine lasted long after the Fayre closed and we were able to tidy everything away in the dry. All in all we had been extremely fortunate with the afternoon's sun - in fact the men collecting the bouncy castle were surprised to discover that it was completely dry, as others they had collected that day had been soaking.
Despite the rain, the British Grand Prix and Andy Murry being in the Men's Final at Wimbledon all on the same day, the Rotherfield Village Fayre was a huge success and loads of fun. Thanks to all the groups and stallholders who braved the showers and ran stalls on the day - I think everyone managed to promote or raise money for their own organisation and do really well; to Les Pike and the Bonfire Society for their help and their coconut shy, the Evening WI, the Primary School PTA, the Scouts, Cubs & Beavers, St Denys' PCC, the Bowling Club, the Football club, the League of Friends of Rotherfield and Brook Surgeries and all the other individuals and groups who ran stalls, helped out or just came along. Particular thanks to Kim and Justin at the Kings Arms for giving their garden and helping with the planning too, to the Catts Inn and Cuckoo Line Stores for selling Raffle Tickets for us, and to James Gallifant for being our Announcer.
Rotherfield St Martin managed to raise about £2,000 which will help towards our work with elderly and vulnerable people in the community and we have been extremely pleased with the positive reaction from everyone about the event. It looks like the Village Summer Fayre might become a regular feature, which is exactly what we hoped to create when we started, and we will be on the lookout for more people to help with the planning and organisation of next year's Summer Fayre.
Anyone interested in ordering a bound book of photos from the Summer Fayre can do so through through Photobox