• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Thunder, lightning and torrential rain greet first night of St Giles Fair


Sep 6, 2022

THUNDER, lightning and torrential rain greeted the first night of St Giles Fair – sending thrillseekers darting for shelter.

The grim weather may have thinned out numbers but showmen saw brisk trade throughout the day, with thousands of people flocking to Oxford city centre for the annual celebration.

There were high spirits as revellers enjoyed terrifying rides, tucked into fairground treats and tried their luck at shooting and throwing games and the traditional challenge of hooking ducks.

More than 20 police officers were drafted in to keep an eye on the high-spirited crowd, many of whom headed for home as the heavens opened.

The annual fair, which began in 1625 as a parish festival to celebrate the feast of the patron saint, St Giles, opened yesterday morning and runs until 11pm tonight.

PICTURES: Thousands turn up to this year's St Giles' Fair in Oxford

It was launched on Sunday night with a traditional blessing. The tradition saw up to 50 people gather in St Giles to sing hymns and listen to speeches from the city’s religious leaders and the Lord Mayor.

Yesterday, families and crowds of friends flooded the closed off thoroughfare to feast on hot dogs, burgers, candy floss and donuts, and take a spin on the dodgems, waltzers, a ferris wheel and towering neon-lit rides, which towered above the historic university buildings lining the road.

The fair is considered to be one of the biggest in Europe, extending along St Giles’, to the junction with Banbury and Woodstock roads.

Traffic has been diverted through Jericho and along Walton Street, with traffic congestion exacerbated by pinch points caused by single-lane traffic calming and stretches of road blocked off in front of restaurants and cafes for outside dining.

A taxi driver, who asked not to be named, described the traffic as a nightmare and questioned why the fair could not be moved off the road to South Park.

He said: “This doesn’t happen anywhere else, and for good reason. Traffic measures have already made driving in Oxford a nightmare and this just makes things worse. Walton Street can’t cope and it has been jammed for most of the day. It is just not practical.”

But the showmen were pleased to be back. Joe Noyce, of James Noyce & Sons Funfairs, said: “We have some fantastic rides coming this year. The Mighty Air has returned and we also have one of the latest thrill rides in ‘Super Trooper XL’ which is the largest version of its kind travelling the UK.
“Then there are family favourites like Sky Flyer which spins riders over 100ft in the air, dodgems, waltzers and much more.”

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