Tree planting means Wychwood Forest Fair must move

Ferret racing at last year's fair

Ferret racing at last year's fair Buy this photo

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Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

THE Wychwood Forest Fair is going to have to move because it has grown too big. Literally.

The fair, which can trace its roots back to the 18th century, is held at Foxburrow Wood, Witney, to raise money for tree-planting at the site and conservation projects in West Oxfordshire.

But the event's organiser, the Wychwood Project, has now planted so many trees that next year’s event will have to be held elsewhere, because there will not be enough room to accommodate the growing number of stalls and visitors.

Fair co-ordinator Michael Drew said: “We have now planted more than 20,000 trees at Foxburrow Wood so by next year we will have run out of space to hold the fair.

“It has been such a huge success so we will of course be finding somewhere else on our land to hold it from next year.”

Last year 4,000 people joined in the fun at the site off Crawley Road, north of the town, and Mr Drew expects as many, if not more, this time.

The fair, which was revived in 2000, promises more than 160 stalls and attractions on conservation and rural living.

The rural craft area will be filled with demonstrations of everything from dry stone walling to hedge laying, from beekeeping to basket making.

The original fair started in the 1700s but Mr Drew said it was banned in 1856 by the Wychwood Forest ranger, Lord Churchill, because of “high levels of crime and debauchery”.

But Mr Drew said the family event is much more civilised these days.

He said: “We don’t have any of that this time round, although it is an interesting story.

“What is nice is that Hatwell’s fun fair, which will again be there on the day, is still run by the same family that ran it the first time around so we have that link to the past.

”The project carries out conservation and wildlife protection work in West Oxfordshire in the area that used to be Wychwood Royal hunting forest.

Visitors can also see plans for the completion of the wood, and join in the project’s plant-a-tree and dedicate-a-tree schemes.

All the profit from the event will go towards the ongoing work of the project in its work of what it terms “restoring landscapes and inspiring people”.

It has been held in Foxburrow Wood for three years.

Mr Drew said the new location for next year’s fair had not yet been identified.

  • The fair is on Sunday, September 1, from 11am to 5pm. Tickets cost £6, with children under-12 admitted free of charge. For more information, see wychwoodproject.org.uk or call 01865 815423.

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