Chew Stoke Harvest Home

The Fun Fair

For the children and the younger folk the Chew Stoke Harvest Home wasn’t just about the Produce tent. Many remember the day because of the Fun Fair – the rides, the music, the crowd participation, the excitement:

“All the village girls would go up in crowds. We loved it! We got friendly with the show people. (They had these) big, gypsy, show caravans. While they were putting up the big top and the amusements we used to go and help. They would make their dinner and we would take their babies for walks, and we got free rides. You couldn’t do it now though because of Health and Safety.”

“We didn’t have anything in the village as kids, nothing happened so we really looked forward to it. We were up in the morning and straight up there! It was a fantastic day and evening. We stayed up there ‘til 1pm chatting.”

“According to the School records, in the 1890’s the children had a ½ day off school for the Harvest Home. It was held in the middle of the week in those days.”

“Coles’ Amusements used to come all around the villages. There were dodgems, swings, roundabouts, swinging boats. Sometimes we would get free rides for picking blackberries, nuts and mushrooms – all the kids would try it (on)! One lady from the fair, her son was born in the caravan in Hedgehogs Field just before the Harvest Home.”

“They had funny vehicles, exciting traction engines – then after the war they were replaced with army lorries with camouflage. It was heartbreaking when they left.”

One lady remembers her childhood at the Harvest Home thus:

“There was a van selling old fashioned sweets, a fish ‘n’ chip van, you could smell the onions all the way around, ice-cream, roundabouts, dodgems, side shows – roll coins, hooplas - a greasy pole, a beer tent, skittles for a pig(let). “

“We came in ’47-’48 and it was the thing of the year – like Christmas. The travelling fun fair would come every year. The children would wait for the trailers to come and set up. They would get very excited and go down after school, and after (they left) we would (go back and) collect the loose coins. My husband was born (here) and went to the Harvest Home as child.”

“There were so many amusements, I don’t know how we fitted them all in.”

“It was all lit up – it was another world.”