Goose Fair on course for cautious return

By Phil Stoneham   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 11th June 2022 6:00 am
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Tavistock Goose Fair looks like going ahead in October. ()

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NEW Tavistock mayor Paul Ward has underlined moves to bring back the town’s iconic Goose Fair by confirming the event’s return following the Covid-19 is already receiving interest from traders.

Councillors have already been told the first operational stakeholder meeting was held in April which was positive, and members of the fair’s consultative group pledged their commitment to this year’s event.

Town council staff are also talking to West Devon Borough Council, who help run the fair, about arrangements for this year’s event.

Cllr Ward, who has just been voted town mayor for the second time, said he believed the centuries-old fair, scheduled for October 12, would be ‘refreshed’.

A committee involving town council staff is already planning the fair, which was shelved for two years because of fears it could fall foul of the pandemic.

Cllr Ward said he thought the idea was to make the fair more of a community event.

‘It’s going ahead, unless of course anything else happens which is something we haven’t thought about, but from what I gather, we have managed to attract a good number of traders,’ he said. ‘At the moment, I do not have the exact details, but I think the intention is to refresh it a little.’

Last September, town councillors pulled the plug on the fair for the second year running after officers said they could not recommend going ahead with the event on safety grounds. They were told in a comprehensive report by town clerk Carl Hearn that an already overstretched staff would struggle to run the event, cancelled the previous year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillors had been at that time planning for the fair going ahead, but had been warned it might not due to uncertainties over the pandemic. The vote was close, with seven voting to cancel and five voting to go ahead.

Mr Hearn told councillors that their officers did not recommend the fair going ahead, but that safety measures to mitigate the risk caused by Covid-19 could be put in place should the town council decide to hold it anyway.

He said because of financial difficulties caused by the pandemic, council staff had been reduced to their lowest number for ten years. That risked overstretching people who still worked at the council.

Cllr Ward said the fair had been cancelled last year for the right reasons, although nobody wanted to make that decision.

He said: ‘It was a hard decision to make, but it was an unticketed event and there was no way we could control the number of people coming to it. ‘We could not take the risk of it becoming a ‘superspreader’ [of the pandemic].’

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