Widecombe Fair is always on the second Tuesday in September so, on Tues. 12th, DPA volunteers Derek Collins, Val Barns, Claude Williams and Keith and Berni Ryan fetched up at the showground quite bright and early. Berni and I aimed to be there before 8.30 am and the others were there earlier, because the gazebo was already up when we arrived. The purpose of our presence at the summer shows is several-fold. One reason is to fly the flag and talk to the public about the DPA, its origins in 1883, its aims and purpose, its participation in Dartmoor governance through contacts with the National Park, its participation in several partnerships, and its own long-standing conservation work, hopefully to attract new members. The other main purpose is to sell merchandise such as leisurewear, books, maps, bags etc to raise funds to support DPA activities.
The photograph above, taken about mid-morning, shows the DPA stand next to that of Dartmoor Magazine. The two stands often find themselves as neighbours at the shows.
As the caption above says, this show can only be Widecombe Fair, with the tower of St. Pancras’ Church, otherwise known as “The Cathedral of the Moor”, and the outlines of Chinkwell Tor and the more pointed Bell Tor as a backdrop.
The Parade of Austin Seven Motor Cars was timetabled for 11.30 am.
One highlight was the Victor Pitts Dog and Ducks Demonstration, although they started with a small pony that played a horn etc. on cue, the main part of the demonstration was how a trained Border Collie can herd ducks – if you missed this, there is a short film of it on Youtube. He also gave some secrets as how the dogs are trained!
The Hill Pony Musical Ride Display portrayed aspects of farming on the moor. I don’t remember the full story but some of the children were dressed to be flames that come into play during the annual swaling, when old vegetation is burned to encourage new growth for grazing for the animals.
Dartmoor Border Morris are based in Meavy. While I didn’t see all their dances (pressure of work, you know!) I do recall that they did one dance called Beardown Man, that you can see on Youtube, although the video doesn’t feature the Beardown Man seen in the centre of the photograph above!
The next section was provided by Dartmoor Hawking, a falconry experience.
I wish I’d had a tape recorder or notepad with me because the commentator had a chat with each driver about their machine and its history ….. a lot of information …..
One thing my father never let me do was to plough! I could scuffle, harrow (with normal or chain harrows), roller, pull the trailer – but never plough.
The tractor above is an early Allis-Chalmers model
The photograph above is zoomed out to several fields away, trying to get a hand-held image of the early runners in the 3.45 pm Uncle Tom Cobley Race. This is where the runners are taken to some point up on the skyline in 4 x 4’s and then race downhill to be first back in the field, by any route they can find.
The weather was kind today, despite the forecast that we had seen. There was the lightest of rain droplets for a few moments at one stage but, all-in-all, we were lucky. We were also lucky to get packed up just after 5 pm. A lot of stalls did the inward disappearing trick as the crowd thinned out, but we had cards etc. on sale until the last moment. However, it rained heavily as we returned down the A38 to Plymouth from Ashburton. It was a good day.