Blasts from past for Didcot's festive fair

Oxford Mail: Didcot's Christmas lights last year Buy this photo Didcot's Christmas lights last year

UP to 20,000 people are expected to pack Broadway in Didcot for the town’s 19th annual Christmas street fair.

The Victorian-style street fair has grown over the years and now attracts visitors from across the South East as well as southern Oxfordshire.

For this year’s fair on Thursday, there will be a vintage theme, with people in the parade dressing up in costumes from previous decades.

The fair is organised by a committee run by the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Street fair committee chairman Jeanette Howse said: “When we started we only had a few thousand people.

“But about 20,000 people came along last year and we’re hoping for the same number again if the weather is okay.

“We have always been very lucky with it – it would be nice if there is no rain.

“Some people have decided vintage means 1940s, while others are going for a 1970s look.

“I look forward to seeing everyone in their 1970s gear.

“I worked at the BBC in the 1970s and used to dance next to all the bands on Top of the Pops. I had a Mott the Hoople All the Young Dudes patch sewn on the back of my hotpants.”

Ms Howse said the street fair this year cost about £13,000, with Didcot Craft Fair earlier this month being one of the main fundraising events. She added: “We didn’t apply for a grant from the town council but we might do next year.”

There will be a vintage seaside theme in Market Place with crazy golf, fairground rides, Punch and Judy and deck chairs.

The Orchard Centre will again have a stage outside M&Co with entertainer Fiona Harrison at 5pm, followed by a 1970s-style rock band and dancers until 9.30pm. The Methodist Church hall in Broadway will host a Santa’s Grotto from 3.30pm and of vintage displays.

The parade, which starts at 7pm, will be led by the area’s Olympic torchbearers, including Mo Merchant, and will also feature Reading Scottish Pipe Band, local youth groups and stage schools in costume. Cheerleaders, MG cars and VW camper vans will join the parade and the town’s Christmas lights will be turned on.

Ms Howse added: “Each year the theme gives us opportunities for exciting displays and entertainment. The vintage theme has certainly attracted the shops to join in.”

Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “Jeanette does a fantastic job – the street fair’s a winter fiesta and gets people thinking about Christmas and what Didcot has to offer.”

Broadway will be closed to traffic from Haydon Road to High Street, from 4pm to 9.30pm and buses will be rerouted via Didcot Parkway station.

For further information, visit didcotchamberofcommerce.co.uk

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