Appleby local has heart STOLEN by Traveller’s Polo Mint-eating horse!

6 June 2024
Appleby resident has heart STOLEN by Traveller’s Polo Mint eating horse!

Appleby is already ‘buzzing, so live and let live and enjoy the Fair!’ – say local people

The River Eden has been checked by RSPCA divers for rubbish and unexploded World War Two military ordnance, the gates are now open to the campsites with the horse-drawn wagons leading the way in yesterday afternoon, the market stalls are all set up, the Drive 2 Survive mobile forge is heating up ready for some audience-participation blacksmithing, the GLORIOUS Romany flag has been raised on its flag pole on Fair Hill  by Billy Welch - and Appleby Fair 2024 is now underway!

Even the many fair-supporting Facebook groups have quietened down a bit – as a lot of their followers and admin are too busy enjoying the fair or grappling with the saturated peak-time signal, to be able to post much as the Fair moves from existing as a potential on the social media-sphere - and bursts into real life.

Some things have changed: The infamous bunding, new rails on the Flash, The Travelling Man Bar off and then on again, a couple more pubs closing. But some things never change, and the annual negative national press coverage started early this year. According to some of the newspapers, all the locals within a 20-mile radius are currently hiding in fear in their cellars and attics until the Fair has finished – and have been doing that for at least two weeks.

Bela Varadi
Appleby 2022 by Bela Varadi for the Travellers' Times

One newspaper even called Kirby Stephen ‘the Wild West!’

Last time we looked on Google maps, Appleby was in the north of England, but that’s the newspapers for you – getting things wrong on purpose, just to wind up their readers.

Sources close to MASCG – the group of councils, emergency services and welfare charities that erm – ‘co-ordinate’ – the Fair told the TT that the Appleby area has had the quietest and most peaceful run up to the fair ever.

But that don’t sell newspapers.

Bela Varadi
Appleby 2022 by Bela Varadi for the Travellers' Times

Bill Lloyd, one of the MASCG Gypsy and Traveller representatives, who is camped on Fair Hill as we speak, had this to say about the supposed ‘Wild West!’:

“I drove round some encampments this eve - it was sweet as a nut - a lovely quiet summer evening, sulkies trotting up and down the lanes, people chatting round smoky fires, dozens of kids playing football and chasing each other around, people enjoying a quiet drink in the pubs - it was a lovely old-fashioned atmosphere - not a digital device in sight - but nobody ever talks about that.”

And if the whole area is in lockdown awaiting the invasion that never came – then someone forgot to tell the Kirby Stephen chippy.

Kirby Stephen chippy

Or the local landowners and farmers renting out the camping and market sites, or the private camping fields in the run up to the Fair.

Or the owners of the many hotels, B&B’s and AirBnB’s for miles and miles around.

Or the Grapes Inn, Appleby.

Or the Mason’s Arms in Long Marton.

Or the other pubs, restaurants, take-aways and shops that did open

Mason's Arms

The Travellers’ Times has a reporter and a photographer at the fair to get our usual fabulous photos and our annual interview with Billy Welch. Next year we might even set up a stall ourselves.

We are going to leave you with the words of some of the local residents themselves – the ones that aren’t supposedly hiding in their cellar in fear wearing their tin hats - and what they say paints a different picture from what you read in the national tabloid newspapers:

Sue (Appleby): “Been into town today and its buzzing. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and respectful. Love seeing you all here. Plus this guy (top photograph) stole my heart, he loved his polo mints. Have a good Fair guys, and please can I ask just be careful with your litter, stop all the negative Nancy’s in the town moaning.”

Bela Varadi
Appleby 2022 by Bela Varadi for the Travellers' Times

Susan (from Kirby Stephen): “A few have been here since last weekend and there has been no issues. It has been lovely to see the travellers and the horses. The Vardos will begin to arrive this week & what a sight to behold.”

Mary: “I’m local to Appleby and would love to give you great stories about the fair. I will be going to Fair Hill on Saturday with my children and although I will keep them close its not from fear – its just the worry of losing them among so many people. I work in Appleby and yes sometimes it’s a hassle but people need to live and let live!”

Deb: “My cousin lives in Appleby and says most people in the village, proper locals, love the fair as it's part of their tradition too.”

We hope you have a cushty Fair everyone, from all at the Travellers’ Times

Bela Varadi
Appleby 2022 by Bela Varadi for the Travellers' Times

TT News

(Top photograph courtesy of Sue)