Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Centuries-old Feast continues tradition
FAIRGROUND rides, art exhibitions and dances will fill Witney in the coming days as the town’s traditional Feast begins.
The 769-year-old event started life as a church celebration and has evolved to now include a carnival that attracts thousands.
Families will be able to take part in two days of fairground rides, games and candy floss that will hit The Leys on Monday.
But the traditional side of the Witney Feast began yesterday and will see a weekend of events and celebrations at St Mary’s Church.
James Mills, Witney Parish church warden, said: “It promises to be an absolutely fantastic weekend with lots of different things for everyone in the family for all different ages.
“It is a great Witney tradition, which people need to support if people wish to see it continue for hundreds of years to come.”
The events began yesterday with a free art and photographic exhibition and display from Witney Model Club at St Mary’s Church, which will run until Tuesday. A service and procession from the church will take place at 6.30pm on Sunday and will finish at the fair with prayers and hymns.
Families will be entertained by Bob Wilson Funfairs, which has supported the festival for 80 years, on Monday and Tuesday in The Leys from 4pm.
Mr Mills said: “We want to raise awareness of the funfair and make people aware of the festival’s historic origins.”
It is believed that Witney Feast dates back to 1243 and tradition dictates that it takes place on the first Monday and Tuesday following September 8 for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the patron saint of the church.
For the older residents of Witney, the end of the fair signals the beginning of winter. Some still quote the saying: “Witney Feast is over. Shut the doors and light the fires.”
Children’s concession prices on fairground rides are available until 6.30pm on Monday and Tuesday.