The 2017 Strawberry Fair
Our 30th Binsted Strawberry Fair
at Flint Barn BN180LL, near Arundel,
took place on
Sunday 23rd July 2017, 2pm-4.30pm.
The guest charities we supported in 2017 were
St Wilfrid's Hospice and WaterAid.
We were happy to celebrate our 30th event welcoming the wider community in to enjoy our unique village. More than a thousand visitors on a Sunday afternoon in the Sussex summer sunshine, have helped us raise over £100,000 for 25 different charities. In 2017 we had a good wetting, but still they came and it was a joyous occasion and we raised over £6000.
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 this year are 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 and Walberton 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.
There was a shadow hanging over the Fair this year, as the locally based Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee found that Highways England was looking at A27 Arundel Bypass options going near or through the Strawberry Fair fields. 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. People welcomed information and signed the Petition, but didn'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. This year with the A27 public consultation imminent he stayed in the woods, but there’s a figure of him on the Village Waymarker and 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 Arundel A27 threat from stands there. But mostly we hope they will just keep on having a really good time in Binsted in support of good causes, which is what we’re all about.