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Article and pictures by Paul Wright, 2021
Rushden Feast 2021

The sun was beating down on Spencer Park when the Feast arrived back in town, after a forced one year lay-off due to Covid 19. Their previous visit was back in 2019, and the opening day was blessed with glorious sunshine too. The perfect day in fact, with 21C, and a gentle breeze.

It was Monday 13th September, 2021, the fairground looks totally different when you see the park being transformed in readiness for “Rushden Feast.”  In some way it is like a modern day “Wagon train” when you see the caravans grouped together. Wagon train was an American TV show that aired in the UK from the late 1950’s, and was about a group of travellers going to California from the mid west just after the American civil war.

Showman from Lutterworth
Setting up the Waltzers
Showman from Lutterworth
Setting up the Waltzers

The logistics of pieces of heavy metal being assembled like some giant adult Meccano set, the man power in getting everything put together in the correct order for another week of fun at the fair.

Not just the heavy rides, but the things we have played with over the years, and who has not tried win a coconut, hook a duck, or hit the target with the “Air rifles”?

Air rifle stall
Air rifle stall

The toffee apples, getting candy floss all over your face, a tasty doughnut or three, the hot dogs, (the smell of the fried onions), each and every one will no doubt have their own memories of being taken down to the feast.

Or being roped in to take the children, or the grand children down Washbrook Road, and dived into the final car parking space nearby?

The showmen and ladies have been away from Rushden, but not idling away on some sort of furlough scheme, that has been enjoyed by so many firms' employees.

After a year and a half, and multiple iterations and extensions, the furlough scheme (officially the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme) was set to end on 30 September 2021.

The best part of 12 million employee jobs had been furloughed through the Government’s job retention scheme, at a cost of £65.9 billion.

Instead, they were providing rides and fun down at Brent cross beach in London, which ended at the start of September, 2021. Some have also been to Northampton at a couple sites over there.

It was pleasing to hear at their delight to see the homage to the Rushden Feast art work on the sports changing rooms. It seemed it was an added treat to be parked in view of the painting. This was painted during 2021 by local artists Adrian Turner and Mark Pacan.

Parked near the art work Home comforts
Parked near the art work
Home comforts

Showmen say this is the back end of touring, and they will be making it back home in the next four weeks.

The popular fun fair has been cancelled at Nottingham for the second year running due to "ongoing concerns and uncertainty" over Covid 19.

Traditionally the “Goose Fair” would be the end of the season on the road.

The figures shown from the NHS is that less than 50% of people in Nottingham had been fully vaccinated, and with 100,000 visitors per day, it was not permitted to go ahead in 2021.

This figure compares to nearly 80% of us in Northamptonshire, who had been vaccinated with at least one dose against Covid 19.

The Nottingham Goose Fair has been running for over 700 years, and has been cancelled on about ten occasions in that time.

Ministers outlined their plans for attempting to control the pandemic through the winter. All over-50s will be offered a third booster jab. The first Covid booster vaccines have been given to NHS staff in England and Wales on Thursday 16th September, 2021, as part of plans to extend protection for millions this winter.

Those eligible include over-50s, younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and care workers.

The booster should be given at least six months after a second dose - with the Pfizer jab recommended.

All children from the age 12 to 15 are being offered a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from Monday 20th September, 2021. Young people in Spain and Denmark have already been given a single dose.

The children travelling with their families on the fair, do have schooling when on the road; this is with learning packs that are sent to them.

There did seem a slight nip in the air, the sun was out with a breeze. By the time the fair started at 6pm on the Friday evening, it was cloudy and dry and 19C.

So far the weather had stayed pretty good, and Saturday was sunny and 23C, perfect.

There was some rain on Sunday morning, but turned out okay for the special running of the fair on a Sunday. This is under noise reduction, and the bass boxes are turned off for consideration of local residents etc.

The fair is open from : Friday 17th - Saturday 25th September

6pm -10pm weekdays

2pm -10pm Saturdays

2pm - 8pm Sunday

14 rides attended this year’s fair, including Vortex, Frogs, High Flyer, Twister, Tagada, Miami, Superbob, Orbiter, Runaway mine train, Waltzer, Matterhorn, Apple roller coaster, The Fun houses, Ghost train, and the good old Dodgems.

Swing chairs
Ghost train
Swing chairs
Ghost train

The so called “cheaper night” was on Thursday, all rides were £1.50 (except the Dodgems and the Vortex).

With 14 adult rides 20 kids rides and loads of stalls with prizes there was probably something for everyone at the Rushden Feast Fair.

On my second visit, litter picking was being carried out by some of the young chaps, and the site looked good. The sun was out, but you could tell that we were approaching the Autumnal equinox, as the temperature drops in the afternoon.

But on the plus side, was that all through the week, temperatures were at least 5 degrees above the September average by hitting 24C, and dry on every evening for the feast.

Charles Thurston brought the fair here over a hundred years ago in 1904, and there is a blue plaque inside of the Asda store to mark the place where that fair was held, prior to moving to Spencer Park.

Prior to our railway station shutting to passengers in 1959, extra trains were laid on to bring in big crowds to the fair. Maybe some things like the Rockets, the Big Wheel, and the Crockery King have gone. But the Feast still comes as the summer has gone, and the nights drop in, close the curtains good folk of Rushden, and keep safe and snug.

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