Good times at the Goose Fair

The Goose Fair gets labelled unfairly by Nottingham University students. Yes it’s true that the fair can attract local crime and gang violence. And yes I know that with top rides costing more than five pounds, it may be seen as too expensive for a student budget. But I am here to argue in its defence, and to use it as further reason why we should be proud of our city Nottingham.

My visit this year was nearly jeopardised by the lovely tram drivers of Nottingham who chose to strike on the only day people really use them. “C’EST ENORME” remarked French girl who we shared a taxi ride with to the neon epicentre of pleasure. Being Europe’s largest and oldest travelling fair, she was right in her outburst.

The Goose Fair clientele are the typical clientele for a Nottingham family event; an eclectic mix of nylon clad youths, the retired, and the conventional 2.4. However the jewels of the fair aren’t only its goers, but more the ones that make it happen.

At the fair lost DJ hopes can be regained, as the biggest rides have their own booths. To encourage those fair goers doubting the fun that could be had, crazy and outlandish sentences are shouted. Competition for airwaves varies from an almost faux Dutch computer voice (think the Grolsch “it’s not ready yet” advert) to the more established bumper-cars and teacups, beckoning you over.

When the time came to eat I made a rookie mistake. I looked for the first place that wasn’t selling ‘gristle burgers’ and settled with that. An average curry filled my hole, made by a lovely couple, who were “newbies” to the goose game. Then turning the corner I saw it: the hog roast and apple sauce stand, the portable food van of all portable food vans. But by this point I’d lost my appetite, and not even the mushy pees stand (a delicacy of the midlands I am yet to be taken in by) could persuade me.

The carnies see this fair as a time to celebrate as well, renting out clubs in Nottingham on the night before the fair starts. These are strictly carny folk only nights. But one begs to question whether the line “come back to my campervan and I’ll give you some extra tokens for the haunted house” has a relative success rate.

The thing with fairs is that they never age; the airbrushed art on the rides will forever be of Jennifer Anniston, Spice Girls and Michael Jackson. The rides rarely change and neither does the enjoyment of middle-aged men. These can be seen throughout winning oversized toys that their wives really have no space for. They accept them though; it seems to resemble some sort of primal hunter-gatherer instinct.

And if you still fear for your safety… don’t. Police presence is heavy. That’s not to say the police don’t enjoy themselves too. Last year saw complaints come in as two bobbies were seen bumping heads on the dodgems whilst on their tea break. So with safety in mind they are now banned from all rides.

And whilst the rides are good, the people are better. Where else could you see a 25-year-old lady, lollipop in mouth and flashing braided hair? Or a real genuine Romany gypsy mother and daughter act, who export their wisdom from the sacred walls of a prefab caravan?

So I urge all of you Mark’s (the carny term for non-carny folk) to shed your reservations. When it next returns put on your scarf and bobble hat, and go and waste £20 of your student loan on fair-filled fun!

Nottingham’s Goose Fair is in Forest Fields Yearly at the beginning of October.

Check for more details.

Will Rowles


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