Nottingham’s Goose Fair

My latest feature in the Nottingham Post.

Any tradition that continues for 700 years must retain links to its history whilst adapting to the future. The Nottingham Goose Fair is our finest example.

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The entrance to The Forest from Mansfield Road

The entrance to The Forest from Mansfield Road

Nottinghamshire’s residents rely on The Goose Fair to signal the start of autumn and the longer nights. It is a time when all generations meet up and enjoy the colour, noise and smells that create such a special atmosphere. It is time when we are reminded of things like coconut and brandy snap; only to then forget about them until next year.

Fairs are exciting places for children, and childhood memories of them stay with us for our lifetime.

Even though the Goose Fair has changed over time, we like to retain our personal connection to it. We can then pass on our own experience and offer advice such as; to use the highest ride first in order to get your bearings, which waltzer is the fastest, or which caterer does the better ‘pale green’ mushy peas.

In my childhood, I always approached the fair along Gregory Boulevard from Mansfield Road. Never being a fan of burgers or hotdogs, we would save ourselves for mushy peas from the Boys Brigade stall as we left.

The coconut would rarely make it home; usually smashed open on the corner of a wall and eaten in the street.

My traditional form of ‘street food’ still exists but the fair is much more cosmopolitan. This year I walked from Mansfield Road down the slope passing the pavilion. This allows for a good view of the fair and also offers many food outlets to consider. For those that prefer to sit down and eat the pavilion is now open all year as the Homemade Café. They were offering a “Goosey Special” of fish and chips with a glass of Prosecco.

Homemade café at The Pavilion

Homemade café at The Pavilion

Continuing into fair itself and there were American, German, Dutch, Jamaican and Oriental caterers. These were interspersed with a ‘traditional’ mushy pea stall that even has an appreciation group on Facebook!

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As I reached the Noel Street entrance there was a roasted chestnut vendor and a scout hut that offered another chance to sit and eat.

I chose to stand and eat.This way I could reflect on the fair’s continued fascination to the thousands of visitors. I could also reflect on the demise of the sideshow type of attraction. I was sure that where I was stood there used to be a woman that lived in a bottle!

Without revealing what I ate (and having checked this for spelling mistakes) I will say that it was not from the stall that was selling “potato’s” or food with no “addatives”!

Traditional fairground fare

Traditional fairground fare

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