With Corby Pole Fair 2022 only two months away, the first acts for the day-long celebration from dawn to dusk have been announced – and there promises to be something for everyone.
Taking place on Friday, June 3, a packed programme of fun activities has been planned for the whole town to celebrate the granting of Corby’s Royal Charter in 1585.
It is also part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend and organisers have promised there will be plenty to keep people of all ages entertained.
Corby Pole Fair Committee has been working with Made With Many, Corby Heritage Centre and HD Media CIC to consult residents and community groups.
Helen Willmott, programme director of Made With Many, said: "There are numerous traditions that take place at every fair, including a dawn parade with a reading of the town’s charter, floral gateways to the old village area of Corby, and a greasy pole competition.
"We have ambitious plans to engage the whole town - and beyond - in a full day of heritage, arts and community activities to make the fair a day for all to enjoy and remember for years to come.
"We envisage that at least 30,000 people will attend the event, with many ex-residents coming from afar to take part in the festivities.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, through a generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pole Fair will showcase the rich history of both Corby village as well as the fair itself.
The event will include all of the traditional elements which include the stocks, stang, ox roast, greasy pole and dawn charter readings.
Arches at each of the main entrances to the village will be decorated by local groups, sponsored by local businesses including ACE Furniture.
Activities will also draw further upon the pre-1900s history of Corby, with storytellers sharing tales of fugitive slaves, local nobles and rebellions, alongside a large Viking encampment.
On stage on the Charter Field, which has been sponsored by Taste Original, there will be performances by local acts including Corby Silver Band and the Deep Roots Tall Trees choir, alongside a unique modern take on a traditional ceilidh bringing all ages together for a proper knees-up.
The Charter Field will also host a big community breakfast to start the day and over lunchtime will be the venue for a teddy bears’ picnic with entertainment for young children to enjoy, with free picnic lunches being provided by The Good Bean.
A walking parade, organised by Corby Carnival, will pass through the village mid-morning, led by four giant puppets representing important historical figures from Corby’s past including Queen Elizabeth I, the Viking Kori from whom the town gets its name and John Anderson, a fugitive slave who was welcomed to the village at the time of the 1862 Pole Fair. These will be joined by local community groups and marching bands.
Wandering around the Old Village will be a range of performers, including an Elizabethan minstrel, jester, fire eater and a group of Tudor Queens, alongside pop-up performances by local musicians and dancers, including the Corby Conspiracy Morris dance side. There will also be a market to browse, Stevens Funfair and activities from St John’s Church and the Corby and District Model Railway Society.
Over in West Glebe Park, there’ll be displays from Steamhorse Jousting and an area for skateboarding with displays provided by Adrenaline Alley. West Glebe will also be home to the Streetfood Fridays area, organised by Flyby Bars, which will include a wide range of street food vendors as well as entertainment.
As part of a year-long programme of heritage activity funded by the Heritage Fund, the coming months will see schoolchildren learn about the history of the fair, thanks to an education pack created by HD Media CIC, heritage activities in Corby Library and groups of young people finding out more about significant people in the town’s history.
Folk musicians, Simon Mayor and Hilary James are currently working with local musicians to write a new song about the Pole Fair, which will then be performed on the day.
After the fair, permanent boards will remain across the old village showing what the village used to be like, alongside work to ensure the 2022 fair is fully archived and sustained for future generations to come.
There’s still lots of space for individuals or groups to get involved, including taking part in the parade, helping to create a floral arch from knitting or crochet as well as other opportunities to perform, volunteering or contributing to a crowdfunder. You can find out how to get involved at www.corbypolefair.com
Denise Westwood, chairman of the Pole Fair steering group, said: "The Corby Pole Fair is a really significant event that only happens every 20 years. We'd love the whole community to get involved to help create a spectacular event and fantastic memories to pass on to the next generation."
Made With Many is a community-led arts programme which produces events and activities designed to inspire more local people than ever before to take the lead in experiencing, creating and taking part in high quality arts and cultural activities.
Further details of the day will be announced over the coming months - if you want to be the first to find out follow the Corby Pole Fair Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CorbyPoleFair.