Otley turns back time for Victorian fayre

Wharfedale Observer: Pool C of E pupils Lauren Turner, ten, Kathryn Dawes, ten, and Niamh Turner, eight, sang carols at the Victorian Fayre in Otley. Pool C of E pupils Lauren Turner, ten, Kathryn Dawes, ten, and Niamh Turner, eight, sang carols at the Victorian Fayre in Otley.

The traditional attractions of Otley Victorian Fayre proved irresistible to large crowds last weekend - despite some wintry downpours.

Thousands of people braved the elements to enjoy everything from pig roasts to Punch and Judy shows in a pedestrianised town centre crammed with stalls and entertainment.

The sounds of carol-singing schoolchildren, street organs, mummers plays and morris dancers, combined with the many shopkeepers and stallholders who had donned period dress, all helped to recreate a convincing semblance of festive times past.

The fayre's organising committee chairman, Steph Lee, said she was particularly pleased this year to see so many people in Victorian costume.

She said: "May I thank everyone who was involved on Sunday.

"Our shops, pubs and cafes all did us proud, with almost everyone dressing up.

"Extra special thanks to all my stewards, we could not have done it without you.

"The rain may have dampened us all a little, but everyone had a great time!"

The Punch and Judy shows under the Buttercross were particularly popular this time, with families crowding in to enjoy the performances while taking some much-needed shelter from the rain, while the town's pubs and vendors selling roasted chestnuts, warm mince pies and mulled wine all did a roaring trade.

Elsewhere children and the young-at-heart queued up to go on carousels, a big wheel, a fun bus, a mini-rollercoaster and dodgems and, thanks to a machine craftily positioned upstairs at the Whitakers pub on Kirkgate, there was even some 'snow'.

Several barely recognisable local politicians were among those helping run the stalls, including Otley Town Council leader Councillor John Eveleigh, selling mulled wine, and MP Greg Mulholland, who both praised another successful event.

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Mr Mulholland said: "The Otley Victorian Fayre was a fantastic event and it was great to see such a terrific turn-out.

"After a fine first half, it was a shame that the weather didn't hold out but the rain certainly didn't dampen the spirits and there was a great atmosphere throughout the day, with everyone enjoying the array of activities and entertainment.

"A huge thanks to Steph Lee and her team of organisers and volunteers for organising such a great event, which is so important to Otley, the local community and the local economy."

Run entirely by volunteers, the fayre is a not-for-profit venture that uses its proceeds to help local good causes throughout the year.

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