Barnstaple Fair Bids Farewell to John Cook
Barnstaple’s annual Fair (16 to 19 September) is taking shape and will this year honour the 40th and final year of one of its most loyal supporters. John Cook, a Barnstaple Town Council Ceremonial Macebearer, has been part of the event since 1975 and each year provides the beautiful floral arch that adorns the entrance to the Guildhall for the week of the Fair. This year John will have the added responsibility of training a successor to take on the role from 2016 having decided to take a well-earned retirement.
Town Mayor Cllr Mrs Val Elkins said “I can’t begin to say how thankful we are for John’s efforts over the years. He has been such an important part of the Town Council’s ceremonial events, and his painstaking work on the floral arch each year makes it a joy to behold. I am sure we will continue to see John in future years enjoying the Fair as a spectator, and wish him all the very best for his retirement.”
John’s long service will be recognised at the formal opening of the Fair on 16 September, which begins with a ceremony at the Guildhall and culminates in a colourful civic procession around the town centre.
The Fair itself is provided by the Showmen’s Guild. It’s one of the largest funfairs in the country and this year runs from 16 to 19 September on Seven Brethren.
Plans are being developed for an exhibition in 2016 charting the history of the Fair, which dates back to the 13th century and quite probably further. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of Seven Brethren as the venue for the Fair, although it is likely that an alternative location will need to be found as early as 2018. The exhibition will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the best site. Cllr Mrs Elkins said “An exhibition would be a great way of highlighting the long history of the Fair and its importance to the town. We hope it will also mean that the community can help us plan for any change of venue, possibly back near its original site in the North Walk area.”
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