The picturesque Hampshire village of Overton was the place to be last weekend, as crowds flocked to experience its historic Sheepfair – despite Saturday’s questionable weather!
The Overton Sheepfair dates back to the 13th Century, when sheep drovers from across the district brought their livestock to be seen and sold in the village. Eight centuries on, in the year 2000, the fair was revived as a quadrenniel event which would celebrate Overton’s history and community as Britain moved into the new millennium.
Mixing the event’s farming origins with modern music, lively games, colourful stalls, and fancy dress, the 2012 fair was a bustling, joyful occasion that did the past proud! Saturday morning saw the fair open with the arrival of the Northington Farm sheep – a reminder of the event’s historical purpose. But other days of yore were also commemorated throughout the weekend, as the fair’s theme – ‘Celebrating an Era of Change: 1940-1952’ – encouraged villagers to remember the more recent past.
What with the Second World War, the Festival of Britain, the invention of the first ‘computer’, the establishment of the NHS, and the Queen’s ascension to the throne, 1940-1952 was a particularly significant time for the country, shaping the second half of the 20th Century and paving the way for today’s society. Attendees took to the theme with verve, and there were many fabulous outfits on display, from wartime pilots’ uniforms to ‘land girls’ in their headscarves. Saturday saw ‘Winston Churchill’ take to the main stage to formally welcome visitors to the fair, while later on an evening of 1940s jazz unfolded in St. Mary’s Hall. A fascinating exhibition was also put together by the villagers: featuring photographs, ration books, letters, and old records donated by Overton residents, visitors could browse back in time to the 40s and early 50s.
On Sunday, the fair harked back to 1948 when Great Britain last hosted the Olympic Games and the Olympic torch made its way through the village. This year Overton was sadly bypassed by the torch relay, but residents were not to be discouraged! Sunday morning brought the Overton Harriers running club racing through the village, carrying their very own ‘Olympic torch’ made especially for the occasion. A festive procession then headed down Winchester Street, floats and classic cars mingling with local clubs and societies as visitors lined the way to cheer them past, creating a real carnival atmosphere.
The 2012 Sheepfair did the village proud, adding another noteworthy event to this momentous year for Britain. The only downside is that we have to wait another four years until the fair comes round again!