No Fair this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to sources Cardigan’s Fair has an unbroken history dating back as far as 1302 – until Covid-19 put a stop to the record, but there was no Fair on 10 November 1861 either – because the 10th was a Sunday!
What was Fair day like? Well here is W. Davies, Crundale school (Goglwyd, Llangoedmor writing in the Tivy-side, November 1913 about Fair Day c. 1860s:
Finch’s Square was full, if not overcrowded, and the first that attracted my attention was the most important man in the fair – Will Bowen, the ballad singer. He was singing ‘Marchnad Abertawe’ , followed by ‘O, wel te’n wir!’. Going up ‘Street Newydd’ (now Priory Street), there was old ‘Fanny Gingerbread’ – better known as ‘Fanny hit my legs’ – shouting to draw attention to her pile of gingerbread… Next to her were two peep shows. Close by was Mrs Jackson’s sweet stall (losin rownd a loshin hir); halfpenny a try. There was a standing of nuts; these were to be shot for, half-penny a shot. Coming down from High St was old Robin selling pins.
Later in the evening you would see sitting by the fireside of the Lamb Inn the ballad singer, challenging anyone to sing the ballad ‘Morgan Bach’ correctly from beginning to end. The challenge was taken up by a young man from the Mwldan. He sang according to the adjudicators – old Tom the Trumpeter, Shemi the Hatter and Dai Gof Cilbronnau – quite correctly, better than Will himself. This verdict roused the ballad singer’s ire, and he left in disgust for the Red Lion, where he was followed by some of his admirers.
One would not leave the Fair without buying some rice pudding from an old friend at the corner…
Happy days… and the fun continues. Many thanks to Keith Ladd for the valuable photographs.
What do you remember about Fair Day?