ANCIENT buildings echoed to the sound of children screaming with joy yesterday as the fair came to town.

Thousands of people poured into St Giles for the annual St Giles’ Fair, and thousands more are expected to enjoy funfair rides and attractions today.

The fair, which dates back to 1625 when a parish festival to mark the feast of St Giles was created, was officially opened by Lord Mayor Elise Benjamin.

She said: “I come every year and I absolutely love it.

“It’s quite an unusual mix, the funfair rides and the old buildings, but I like to think it’s a statement on the mix of Oxford.

“It’s not just the university, it’s really town and gown and in a way this bridges the gap.”

Five lucky children won a ‘golden ticket’ to have free access to all the fair’s rides thanks to a competition in the Oxford Mail.

The winners included India Nanton, 14, from Blackbird Leys.

She said: “I’m really happy to win. I went last year but I hadn’t been since I was little before that.

“The atmosphere is really good.”

Lorcan Gibson, seven, from St Clement’s Street, Oxford, also won a golden ticket. His mum, Katherine Chapman, said: “He had forgotten all about it, so when the phone call came he was very excited.”

Lorcan said his favourite ride was the dodgems, adding: “I’m going to make the most of it.

“I might go on the helter-skelter tomorrow with my dad.”

Amy and Katie Kennett, six and four, from Abingdon, tried their hand at driving a toy car on a mini rollercoaster. Their mum, Wendy Kennett, said: “They love all the excitement and the noise.”

Meanwhile Simon Tyrrell, 38, and his six-year-old son Tommy from Botley, were causing as many crashes as they could as they teamed up on the dodgems.

Mr Tyrrell, who also brought nine-year-old Lily and 10-year-old Jack to enjoy the fun of the fair, said: “We just love the atmosphere, we have been coming here for years. It’s good the kids don’t have to be at school until Thursday.”

David Wallis, vice-president of the National Showman’s Guild, praised the event: “This is the most prestigious fair in the country. There isn’t a better fair in the land.”

An estimated 70,000 attended last year’s fair.