Chipping Steam Fair celebrates award despite being a no-show this year!

It may never have quite happened this year ...but nevertheless a local visitor attraction has scooped a special award.

By Fiona Finch
Thursday, 26th November 2020, 9:26 am

Chipping Steam Fair has been named the Best Heritage Event Organiser 2020 in the Northern Enterprise Awards.

Fair Secretary Mark Craig said he believed the award was recognition for all the work volunteers have put in over the years.

A delighted Mark said: "Any award is great for the morale of the people who put on the show.That's what it's all about from my perspective ...those people who give their time and effort. The volunteers and committee members all put in a lot of effort. It's nice for them to reap the rewards of their hard work."

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Scene from Chipping Steam Fair 2019 (photo:Stuart Homer photography)

Over the years the show has raised some £125,000 for local causes.

He added: "I think it's for previous years. It seems funny winning something when we haven't put on a show."

A 25 person committee plus around 80 volunteers make sure the steam fair is a continuing success.

Plans are already afoot for the 2021 event, which pandemic restrictions allowing, will take place on May 29, 30 and 31. Mark said: "We're on about 1,000 exhibitors, vintage tractors, cars, steam engines, military vehicles, vintage caravans, steam large and small, classic cars and vintage commercial vehicles."

Scene from Chipping Steam Fair 2019 (photo:Stuart Homer photography)

There will be special acts in the arena each day and fairground attractions for children, plus numerous side stalls.

Past beneficiaries of show proceeds include the new village hall, Chipping's multiuse games area, the local football club and local good causes.

Mark added: "We can't get together to celebrate, usually we'd be having a Christmas do. We'll probably have a bit of a celebration next year. There's nothing much we can do at the moment . It's just a nice accolade for the volunteers. A pat on the back."

The event now attracts some 20,000 visitors and exhibitors each year. But it started out with more modest origins as a one day event at the back of the Talbot pub in Chipping.

Scene from Chipping Steam Fair 2019 (photo:Stuart Homer photography)

Founder member and former show secretary Mary Harrison, said her aim had been to raise funds as the village's then village hall had dry rot and funds needed to be raised for a replacement.

She said: "It was falling apart so we needed some money."

The event behind the Talbot featured some 40 vehicles and one or two stalls. Mary, a retired hairdresser, recalled how during the day many people came and said they would have brought their vehicles if they'd known about it - but they would need a bigger showground.

She said: "This fired my imagination and I started trawling these events in Lancashire and all over the place. If there was an event on I went and talked to the exhibitors and asked them if they would be interested if we had something at Chipping. They were all enthusiastic."

"I took my courage and the only field I knew was the agricultural show field in Chipping so I sat through their (annual) meeting and under Any Other Business I asked 'Can we borrow your field?' They would think about it ...The answer came back yes."

It w as first held on the show's field in 1998 with the help of volunteers. A bumper raffle helped boost funds to help pay for the fair costs. In total £10,00 was raised for the new village hall. In 2000, another cheque for £8,000 went towards the hall. Mary said: "People were so generous and from there it went on.It's been very very popular....absolutely every aspect of Chipping we support.""

But one year the weather was dreadful and after the constant rain poured down the centre of the field it became apparent the fair needed a new and larger location - hence the move to its current rented 40 acre show site at Leagram.

Mary was honoured for her work with the show when she was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the birthday honours marking the Queen's 90th birthday.

Mark added: "Myself and the committee are very proud of the event we put on, but we are more thrilled that the volunteers that help stage the show are recognised for their continued effort and support, as without them all the charity donations made to the local community would not happen."

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