It’s the first weekend of October. The music is blaring out amid screams from the rides, the smells of chips and burgers cooking surrounds you and bright lights fill the Nottingham sky. So it can only mean one thing …..It’s time for Goose Fair!
As Europe’s biggest fairground and one of Britain’s longest running fairs, it’s not hard to explain exactly what makes the event so special. The sheer size of it and the masses of people is daunting as you approach the ground but to a first timer it is essentially just a fairground.
Yes this is fast rides in a park, overpriced greasy food and trying to win a giant furry teddy at a hook-a-duck stall, but there is just something about this event that brings out the child in you.
The fair is steeped in history having been running for more than 830 years and it’s now something of a tradition for people in Nottingham. There’s always a buzz about the city when it’s almost time for ‘Gooseh’ and excitement really builds when the famous goose statue appears on a roundabout outside the site.
But most importantly, you can’t visit Goose Fair without enjoying the local delicacy – chips and mushy peas….or even minty peas! This was the first place I had ever seen or tried mint mushy peas which sounds awful and sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it tastes surprisingly nice. Mushy peas are so commonly associated with the fair that it’s not unusual to see someone just eating their way through an entire cup of peas.
Then there’s another tradition – the Cock on Sticks stand. The same Nottingham family has been making the cockerel-shaped lollipops for more than 100 years and in 1950 a man called Ray decided to start selling them at the fair. And he’s had his stall in the same spot every year ever since.
This was my fifth visit to the fair and usually I Would go just for the food, for taking photos and people watching, and maybe have a go at some of the games at the stalls. I won an ugly orange monkey one year bythrowing balls into a bucket but normally I would walk away empty handed…or with a bag of hot freshly made doughnut.
I’m not really one for fairground rides and had only ever been on the waltzers in about 2003, but this year I plucked up the courage and actually went on two rides. The idea of being thrown around in the air at ridiculous speeds is just not my idea of fun. I know some people enjoy the thrill and momentary feeling of being scared, but all I could think about was how sick it was making me feel and the dizziness I would get afterwards.
I’ve become worse with age when it comes to rides and rollercoasters so it does make me wonder why I get so excited about this time of year. But there is so plenty more to keep you occupied and entertained at Goose Fair if rides aren’t your thing. It’s certainly a real spectacle to wander around and don’t forget to leave without having your chips and mushy peas.
Until next time Gooseh!