THOUSANDS flocked to the Witney Feast as the centuries-old tradition returned for another successful year.

Emily Wilson, who organise's the feast's fair, which ran Monday and yesterday, said it looked as though ‘Disney had come to Oxfordshire’.

Despite poor weather, it is estimated that about 20,000 people visited The Leys over the two days to mark the feast’s 774th year.

Ms Wilson said: “We had a wonderful set up with no problems at all and the site looked absolutely magnificent.

“It was like Disney had come to Oxfordshire. It was a really nice atmosphere and everybody was very jovial.

“We never feel like visitors when we come to Witney – but rather like custodians. "We had a very very warm welcome.”

The build up to this year’s feast started on Sunday at St Mary’s Church with a traditional service at 6pm attended by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft.

The congregation then made its way to the fairground for a second service at 7pm, with the fair getting underway on Monday.

Run by Bob Wilson’s Fun Fairs, the fair at the Witney Feast is the largest in the town and one of the biggest in the county.

Ms Wilson said that one draw of the event was its use of larger, thrill-inducing rides that are unable to be used at the St Giles’ Fair in Oxford due to a lack of space.

Witney Town Council leader, Toby Morris, said the feast is thoroughly ingrained in the history of Witney.

He said: “The Witney Feast is part of the fabric of the town and, for anybody who’s grown up and been here for all their lives, it’s a part of them too.

“It’s probably one of my favourite things to do as a town councillor because it’s such good fun and it’s steeped in history.

“As well as being important for St Mary’s, it’s also incredibly important for the Wilson’s Fun Fair, which has been held at the feast for the past 150 years.

“I was talking to the Bishop of Oxford on Sunday and I said: ‘Have you ever heard yourself singing hymns on a merry-go-round before?’

Despite this year’s fair just wrapping up, Ms Wilson said preparations were already in place for next year’s feast, as those involved get ready to celebrate a special anniversary.

Ms Wilson continued: “It feels absolutely wonderful playing a part in this Witney tradition.

“We’re now all working on plans for next year’s feast as it will be the 775th so we want to try and do something really different.”

The Witney Feast started in 1243 when King Henry III granted two deer from the Royal Forest of Wychwood to celebrate the rededication of St Mary’s Church.