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Crowds flock to the St Giles' Fair
WITH lessons looming, thousands of young fun-seekers basked in the sunshine yesterday at St Giles’ Fair.
This year’s annual two-day fair arrived in Oxford in time for school pupils to pay a visit before they return to classes today after the summer holidays.
Organisers expected more than 100,000 revellers to visit the fair, which fills St Giles’ by the time it finishes tonight.
This year, for the second time, the attraction features Air, one of the largest portable rides in Europe. The mechanical octopus is popular with daredevil thrill-seekers as it spins riders about 100ft over the historic street.
The fair has also brought a large ferris wheel to town for the first time since the 1980s. The event itself dates back to the 1600s.
City council fair coordinator Mike Newman said he expected the number of visitors to top 100,000.
He added: “It could be a record year. The combination of scorching weather and the schools being shut has really brought people out.
“I have been running the fair for the council since 1999 and I have never seen it so busy.
“Soon after Lord Mayor Alan Armitage opened the fair in the morning it was difficult to move.
“This is one of the most prestigious fairs in the country and you get lots of people coming here from outside the county as well as from all over Oxfordshire.
“As far as I’m aware there has been no trouble, although one or two people struggled in the heat.
“I have spoken to quite a few of the showmen and they are delighted with the turnout because they should make some money.
“With so much wet weather it has been a difficult year for them.”
Miichael Manders, from Manchester, who was selling candyfloss with his wife Vanessa, said: “This has been one of the first bits of good weather we have had so we are delighted.”
Duty manager for St John Ambulance Stephen White, who brought a team of 12 volunteers, said: “A few people have suffered cuts and bruises after falling over, while one or two have been fainting because of the heat, but there have been no major problems.”
Magdalen Street and St Giles will be closed until about 6.30am tomorrow, not 6.30pm as reported in yesterday’s and Saturday’s Oxford Mail.