THE ORGANISER of Belper Fair – which opens in two weeks – has dug deep into the archives and traced the fair’s origins back to 1260 to reveal the town’s historic links with the world of the fairground.
As well as travelling the country with his own wall-of-death motorbike show, Neil Calladine is an enthusiast and historian who writes articles for the World’s Fair, the showmen’s trade paper, and Vintage Fairground.
Neil said: “People think Belper is a relatively recent fair – but it is as old as Ilkeston and Heanor.
“I think it’s a great tradition. I help to promote it and keep it going as a family event.”
The festivities are also organised by Neil’s friend John Proctor whose own family have been working on the fair for three generations.
Neil, 60, who was born on Spencer Road, said: “I’ve lived on Mill Street for the past 33 years but most of the time I’ve been living in a caravan away with the show. I’m the spieler – the bloke with the microphone who persuades people to come in. It does run in the family. It must be in the blood! There might be gypsies in my family but I’ve never traced it! Many years ago the Coppice was used as winter quarters for the showmen and I would go to school with their children from October to Easter.”
Neil also works as treasurer of the Fairground Association of Great Britain, alongside wife Lynn who is the membership secretary and also works hard in the background of the fair. Work is still underway on the organisation of this year’s fair, which opens on Thursday October 27 and runs until Saturday 29, and last minute rides will be booked after Goose Fair in Nottingham. This year Neil promises “some really big hitters” with the return of the Stargate and Take-off. Next week, in association with the Belper News, a competition will be run for unlimited free rides.