Fair may become a festival

The Oxford Times: Jane Gallagher with a poster for the fair Picture: OX63911 Richard Cave Jane Gallagher with a poster for the fair Picture: OX63911 Richard Cave

IT entertained thousands on Oxford’s biggest estate this summer after a two-year absence.

Now the organisers of the Leys Fair are encouraging Blackbird Leys residents, community groups and businesses to get behind the free community event to make sure it returns next year.

The family day, which costs about £10,000 to run, offers free or reduced price activities and organisers are applying for funding to run it.

First planning meeting is being held today at 11am at Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, where a new name for the day will be discussed.

Organiser Jane Gallagher, of the Oxfordshire Play Association, said: “We want to encourage local residents and groups to come forward with ideas to ensure we have an exciting event. We are working on the finances. Nothing is certain at the moment.

“We do not know if the funding is going to be there, but we have had extremely encouraging feedback and everybody is keen to see it happen this year.

“We want have maximum impact for the lowest cost.The more people involved the better.”

Further meetings are being held and Ms Gallagher has appealed for anyone to get in touch, even if they miss today’s meeting. The Leys Fair was cancelled in 2011 due to a lack of organisers, but it returned this year and was enjoyed by 3,000 people in Blackbird Leys Park.

Oxford City Council and Blackbird Leys Parish Council donated £10,000 to make the Oxfordshire Play Association event happen and funding was also received from GreenSquare. There were a range of activities at the event including archery, mountain biking and go-karting.

Ms Gallagher said: “We are looking to rename the Leys Fair.

“We are aware that people come expecting an actual fair like the St Giles Fair but it is not that kind of fair.It is more of a festival.

“It is held in Blackbird Leys Park which is a beautiful green space in the community.

“It is a perfect space to bring people together with something for all ages.”

Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper suggests calling it Leys Fest or Leys Festival.

Next year’s date is still to be confirmed, but it is usually held on the first Saturday in September.

s Call Ms Gallagher on 01865 779474 or email jajane.gallagher@oxonplay.org.uk

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