THE VERY BEGINNING
Medieval fairs were traditionally held in the months of May, June and July for buyers and sellers of a wide variety of wares. They were usually promoted by eminent local families or religious houses. The Lincolnshire village of Castle Bytham was granted one of the earliest Royal Charters to hold a Fair, given to Robert de Colvile by King Henry III in 1247. Unfortunately, when the last of the de Colvile family died in 1369, the new Lord of the Manor, Ralph Basset, decided to discontinue the annual event.
THE MODERN FAIR
In 1993 a committee of people from the village formed to resurrect the Fair as a means of raising funds for the parish church and village hall. They chose the nearest weekend to midsummer as the best time to hold it. For many years it took place only on a Sunday but it has grown in size and popularity and now takes place over two days. A lot of money has been raised over the years to support not only the maintenance of the church and hall but also local Scouts and Guides, children’s play areas, a defibrillator, the local free paper, local school, the setting up of a community shop, and additional funding for the organisers of Christmas parties for the over-60s and children, in Castle Bytham and surrounding villages.
THE BIRTH OF THE FESTIVAL
The Castle Bytham Midsummer event now includes a free music festival on the Saturday that gives a showcase to lots of great local bands.
Then on Sunday it’s the main fair day with all the traditional delights of a village fete – dog show, duck race, tombola, cream teas, market stalls – mixed with more great music and, this year, a Medieval theme that features traditional falconry and archery displays, fools and jesters, knights and damsels.
Add to that, children’s entertainments on both days, bar and BBQ, home-made food in the village hall and even more refreshments in the two village pubs, and you’ve got the makings of a fantastic weekend of fun!