Our 32nd Binsted Strawberry Fair
at Flint Barn BN180LL, near Arundel, took place in July 2019.
The Covid pandemic prevented fairs being held in 2020 or 2021. The hard work of fighting the Arundel Bypass threat to our villages, and the trauma of living with this threat, have a heavy impact on our volunteer resources, hence no Fairs were held in 2022 or 2023. We hope to re-start this lovely tradition in summer 2024.
It is the tranquility and quiet beauty of the place which brings the visitors to our Fair and Church, and brings our volunteers together to hold this Fair for the Friends of Binsted Church and for other charities too. If the bypass route goes ahead: the tranquil rural beauty will be destroyed, and our traditional Fair will never happen again.
Subject to the pandemic and to the bypass threat, we hope once again to welcome thousands of visitors to our unique village in July 2024. Our charities at our last Fair before Covid, in 2019, had a local flavour: Walberton-based Just Different, Binsted-based church repairs, and Parkinsons UK in memory of Rosemary Tristram, one of the founders of the fair, who died on 4.1.2019. Her husband and co-founder of the Fair, David Tristram, died on 22.2.2020. We will remember them with happy thankfulness.
Over the years, more than a thousand visitors to Binsted on a Sunday afternoon in the Sussex summer sunshine, each July, have helped us raise over £100,000 for 26 different charities. In 2018 we had about 1200 visitors for a joyous sunshiny occasion and we raised over £6000, which went 25% to the Arun Countryside Trust (MAVES) and 75% to our organizing charity the Friends of Binsted Church.
The Strawberry Fair is held in a beautiful 19th-century threshing barn and the Strawberry Fair fields near Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 0LL. It is a great place to meet others who love rural Sussex, to buy donated local produce including herbs and shrubs from Binsted and Walberton and Fleurie Nurseries, and to enjoy a range of farming and local interest and craft stands. There are also Strawberry Teas, ice creams, childrens games, sheep and baby chicks. And some of Sussex's finest folk musicians play traditional tunes in and around the barnyard.
In each of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, over 1000 people came to our traditional country fair. We raised over £6,000 each year in aid of the charities.
If you would like to offer to help or to donate cakes or books or other produce next time, or have a question or feedback on the Fair, please in the first instance email Mike Tristram and he will pass on your contact to the appropriate person on the Strawberry Fair Committee.
Please tell your friends about the Fair - and most of all, come along and enjoy its unique atmosphere in Binsted's amazing countryside. Countryside which is the haunt of dormice, Purple Emperor butterflies, wetland wildfowl, unusual wildflowers, and a community with great pride in our tranquil and beautiful place.
Read on to find out more ...
About the Fair
It all started with a Herb Festival in the churchyard in 1977, to raise money for new oak shingles for our tiny 12th-century church’s steeple. That was followed by our first Countryside Fair for charity, 34 years ago in 1983. Since 1988 it’s been a steady run of Strawberry Fairs, with villagers and other volunteers giving time, skill and produce every year to make a wonderful day out.
Some stalls directly raise a lot of money such as sales of plants donated by local nurseries. But it’s not about how much each stall raises, it’s what they contribute to the joy and interest of the occasion for all the people who come. There’s lots for families: face painting and children’s games are regular features. Your children may already love Lucky Dips but have they tried Whack the Rat, Fish the Duck, or Toss the Cone?
Don’t expect any bouncy castles or canned music though, this is a traditional country fair! With a small group of traditional folk musicians playing in the entrance to the lovely old flint threshing barn where cream teas with strawberries are served, cakes and strawberry scones and other local produce are sold, and the raffle prizes are on display till the vicar calls out the winning numbers; then off to celebrate in the strawberry coloured Pimms Tent.
There are village fete standards such as sales of books, bottle tombola, bric-a-brac, and ices. More unusual are the herbs shrubs and perennials on sale, and the Animal Corners with magic pony, donkeys, turkeys, chicks, owls. Craft demonstrations last year included cane chair making and pole lathe turning; new in 2017 were traditional witches’ broom-making, and the chance for children to learn how to make Bird Feeders from natural materials gathered in Tortington Common, part of Binsted Woods Local Wildlife Site.
The plants donated by Binsted Walberton and Fleurie Nurseries (Tristram Plants) raise about a third of the funds. The countryside interest stands are another Binsted speciality. Local environmental group MAVES are there to tell about the amazing wildlife they are finding around Binsted and beyond, alongside the Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs Society and the South Downs National Park Rangers who have been helping MAVES with traditional hedge laying nearby and with dormouse surveys. The Worthing Archaeological Society are active in Binsted, we have a Roman Road and villa, pottery kilns and much more which they are helping to explore: visitors can bring their own garden finds for identification.
The Strawberry Fair is a great local tradition but its future, and the future of the community who create it anew each year, are threatened by some of the options Highways England have been considering for an A27 Arundel Bypass. That would destroy all the peace and pleasure in the landscape that people come to our village to find. It would put an end to our Arts Festival, to the community’s special spirit inspired by the landscape. But when the Fair is on: we don't let this threat spoil the joy of the day.
We had a Green Man – a figure of nature and man united – at the Fair in 2016. In 2017, with the A27 public consultation imminent, the Green Manstayed in the woods. There’s a figure of him on the Village Waymarker. His presence in Binsted says something about the place and why it’s so special. We hope more people than ever will keep coming to the Strawberry Fair, and find out more about the good things being done to protect our countryside from stands here. But mostly we hope everyone will just keep on having a really good time in Binsted in support of good causes. That's what we’re all about.
Save Our Strawberry Fair!
Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee also exhibit at the Fair, with an update on the work of Highways England looking at possible Arundel A27 improvement options. In Aug-Oct 2019, Highways England consulted on six Options, one of which would go through the Fair fields and three of which would go so close as also to make the event unviable for the future. The Strawberry Fair is a celebration of community in the tranquility of this natural countryside. The community are counting on widespread support from the many friends of Binsted to support ABNC in opposing this route, so that Binsted's Strawberry Fair tradition can continue, and continue to benefit our charities.
Click here to email ABNC your contact details to keep informed about this threat to the Strawberry Fair; but don't let any such worry spoil your enjoyment of the next Fair!
Strawberry Fair Committee Contacts
Chairman: Penny Hadley
Secretary: Emma Tristram, Stable Cottage, Binsted
Publicity & Treasurer: Maggie Moore
Website & General Enquiries: Mike Tristram
Next committee meeting: tba
The Fair is held at Mill Barns (Flint Barn),
Binsted Lane West, Binsted
Arundel, West Sussex