AS some of the last rays of summer sun beat down on Oxfordshire at the weekend, thousands turned out to celebrate the 13th annual BunkFest in Wallingford.

The three-day festival — which started on Friday — had the biggest turn-out yet, organisers said.

More than 20,000 watched traditional dancing and live bands, stroked sheep, goats and ponies in the petting zoo and had fun on the fairground rides.

Coal-powered traction engines sent clouds of steam billowing out across Kinecroft Park.

The annual festival, named after the bunk line railway from Cholsey to Wallingford, is staffed and organised by about 300 volunteers.

Festival director Dominic Feeley, 50, said: “We think it is the biggest free festival in the country, and we have people from all over the UK visiting.”

He said popular attractions included a “silent disco” on Saturday night when revellers bopped away to music piped through headphones.

Traction engine owner Arthur Honey, 66, who came with two of his red machines, said: “They attract a lot of attention.

“The kids just love them, but a lot of the children don’t understand what the coal is, I have to keep showing them the fire.”

Gesturing with his engine oil-stained hands to the bigger of the two, he said: “This one is called Lady Ann, and the smaller one is Phoenix. I call them my babies.”

The Wallingford resident said: “I have been coming to the festival since it started, when there were just a few tables and chairs around the Cross Keys pub, and it has escalated out of all proportion.

“I think this is the best one yet, and certainly the busiest.”

Oxford Mail:

Arthur Honey with his traction engine, and visitor Bertie Chapman, two

Two-year-old Bertie Chapman, from Upper Basildon in West Berkshire, beamed as he sat on Lady Ann’s leather seat.

His dad Mark Jex, 45, said: “He really likes tractors and he likes these too.

“This is the first time we have been to the festival and the weather has been wonderful.”

Julia Smith, 58, from Wallingford, said: “We have been every day this year. As we live just around the corner, it is so convenient.

“It is absolutely brilliant.”

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