A NEWLY appointed organiser of Oxford’s historic St Giles Fair has warned it may not stage an event this year at all because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain is due to take over as the main organiser of the ancient fair, as Oxford City Council steps back from some duties.

But Joey Noyce, a representative of the London and Home Counties section of the guild, said that he could not guarantee St Giles Fair will go ahead if current social distancing restrictions are still in place come September.

Mr Noyce said: “It is possible it could go ahead, but if the guidance stays the same, it won’t. It is not something I would like to say either yes or no at the moment.

He added: “We are speaking to the health and safety executive every day and they are setting out guidance which we have to follow – this applies to all the fairs we run across the country as a whole.”

The London and Home Counties section of the guild also organises Thame Show Fair and Wallingford Fair in Oxfordshire.

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Mr Noyce said: “It is public safety and public health that is paramount in all this. We wouldn’t just run a fair it if was putting anyone in danger.”

Under current Government guidance, people are advised to maintain one meter distance from one another.

This advice, known as the ‘one-meter plus’ rule, recently superseded advice which said people should stay two meters apart from one another.

But if the guidance were still in place come September 7 and 8, when it was due to be held this year, then it will not be possible to host it, because large crowds will not be able to gather.

On the change in the behind-the-scenes management, Mr Noyce added: “As far as the actual running of the fair, it won’t be any different from the last 20-30 years.”

Speaking on behalf of Oxford City Council Mary Clarkson, the Cabinet Member for the City Centre, Covered Market and Culture, said preparations were still going ahead in case changes in Government rules meant the fair could take place.

Oxford Mail:

Mary Clarkson

But she added: “I should be clear it wouldn’t be possible for the fair to go ahead if the current public health regulations including the including one-metre plus social distancing requirement are still in place in September.

“We have previously managed the organisation and operation of St Giles Fair with support from the Showmen’s Guild, with the Council acting as a point of liaison between the Guild and the operators of individual attractions.

“This year we decided to pilot using the Showmen’s Guild to take on operational management of the whole event. We’d want to see how the pilot went before making any longer-term decisions around management of the Fair.”

According to Oxford City Council’s website, St Giles Fair dates back to 1625, when it was held as a feast to celebrate the patron saint of the local church.

LOOK AGAIN at photographs from last year's St Giles Fair

St Giles Feast is September 1, and the fair is usually held on the first Monday and Tuesday after this.

The city council’s website adds that the modern funfair originated during mid and late Victorian times.

It says: “This was a time when improved means of transport meant that large numbers of people could be brought into the city to attend the festivities. It was also when the forerunners of today’s rides were first developed following advances in mechanical engineering.”

The Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain was set up in 1889 to act as a representative body for travelling showmen across the UK.

It is both a trade body and a cultural organisation, and helps to support the travelling lifestyle of showmen and women.