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Bury St Edmunds: More than 100,000 people attracted to towns’ fayre

PUBLISHED: 08:55 26 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:44 20 February 2014

HIGH winds and rain did not damage the Christmas spirit as the festive season kicked off a fayre in Bury St Edmunds at the weekend.

Organisers and traders were faced with a mixture of weather over the three days of the event, which attracted more than 100,000 people to the town.

But it could have been much worse if the high winds that had battered East Anglia had continued.

Organisers said they were close to cancelling the fayre yesterday after exposed areas of the Abbey Gardens were hit and up to five stalls were lost to the weather. There were fears there could be further damage but they were able to open the gardens by 11.30am. And a farmers’ market, centred round the Buttermarket, also went ahead after initial worries about it being able to operate.

Thousands of people flocked to the town yesterday for the final day, with a reported 60 coaches bringing in visitors. A further 80 arrived on Friday and 90 Saturday.

Sharon Fairweather, the fayre’s event manager, said: “I think we can call it The Eventful Fayre this year.”

Security staff contacted her at 4am to report the problems in the gardens. She then contacted the stall holders worst hit by the weather but most were able to carry on and continue trading.

“We were so relieved as we were close to calling the whole thing off early in the day,” she said. “Overall we were a bit down on Saturday but Friday was a great day and as Sunday wore on it got better and better.”

More than 50 stewards helped to ensure the fayre was a success along with the many volunteers from the clubs in the town.

Alan and Sandra Humphries, who run Lime Tree Pantry Food, based in Nottinghamshire, said they had a particularly good day yesterday and felt their efforts to attend the event for the sixth time were “worthwhile”.

Judith Swannell, from North Weald, in Essex, who was running her ceramic stall, was delighted with the three days.

It was the third year she had attended the fayre and she said: “I am just thrilled to be here and we really enjoy it. People are so pleasant and friendly and it has been well attended despite the weather.”

However, it was a different story for first- timer Pam White, of St Margarets Catering, based at Ilketshall St Margaret, near Bungay.

She was in the Abbey Gardens and lost trade for much of yesterday.

“It’s been a bit mixed for me and the gardens closing did not help, but I’ll give it another go next year.”

Charlotte Grant and Charlotte Cameron, who come from Thurston and Norton and run Hedgerow Cordials and Piffs Preserves, were upbeat and said they had a better year than 2011.

And in Hatter Street, Phil and Sue Dowthwaite, of Frettenham, near Norwich, who run an artistic woodturning business were also upbeat.

“I think that it’s worked really well for us,” said Mr Dowthwaite.

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