Saturday, 14 August 2010

Manaton Show And Fair 2010.

Hidden away in Dartmoor, behind Haytor, past Becky Falls and in the shadow of Hunters Tor lies the sprawling village of Manaton. Not a cluster village, but a road of houses, off set farms, a pub and a cricket field. That is Manaton. There is a village hall next to the church, but this is not a village with a centre - a heart - just a village where the road passes through....
Every year there is the Manaton Fayre (now called The Manaton Show & Fair), this was my third time. When I first went back in 2003 I was captivated by it all. It was like time had stood still in 1963. Half expecting Doug McClure to appear from behind the cricket pavilion. There were old moorish activities like ferret racing, tossing the sheaf, tug o' war, best marrow competition, wellington boot tossing etc. (Alot of tossing). Farmers roamed the field in their burberry waistcoats and corduroy. It really was a step back in time.
In 2006 the fayre had gotten bigger with more bric-a-brac stalls and charity stalls like Devon Air Ambulance and St. Johns Ambulance raising money. The Dart Valley Stompers walked the perimeter of the cricket field playing trad jazz. There was still the tossing and the tugging taking place. It was bigger and to an extent better.
This years fayre. Now called show + fair was a disappointment on my previous visits. The event has got a little more "downmarket". Less like a little parochial summer fayre raising money for the village / parish needs, more like an excuse to rob me of my money to line the pockets of profiteers. Firstly it cost £3 PER ADULT admission. 3 fucking quid for something that should have a 20p entrance fee. There was still the tossing and tugging and ferret racing but the stalls had grown in size to include rip-off merchants who prey on the unsuspecting (children) to part them with their cash.
"Every one's a winner" cried this old hag during the minutes silence for a fallen local. Sat in a chair surrounded by inflatable tat she charged 30 bob for kids to "hook a dolphin" - which she did herself and then told them to get a 3ft inflatable hammer from the bucket. Rip-off. There was a similar stall "selling" (every one's a winner) toy guns if you rang a bell or something. Oscar had a go on the bouncy castle. £1 = 5 minutes, and to make sure it was 5 minutes a guy stop watched every child. He would rather have an empty bouncy castle than a child spending seconds more enjoyment than they have paid for. And who runs these stalls? Locals? No. Before I get in to libel or hauled before the PC committee may I bring in to your mind the song "Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves" by Cher and concentrate on the former and latter in the title.

I did find a copy of "Dead Elvis" by Greil Marcus for 50 pence worth the trip....

1: Manaton Show programme.
2: The First World Salad Eating Championship.
3: Punch & Judy.
4: Classic Car show with an Isetta. (Brought back memories)!

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