THOUSANDS poured into Faringdon Road Park for the annual children’s fete this weekend as organisers declared it the biggest since its revival nine years ago.
The event, traditionally held in the GWR Park dating back to 1855, drew the crowds to the fairground attractions and live music from local talent on Saturday as the sun appeared to defy the forecasters.
The fete all but disappeared with the outbreak of the Second World War until it was brought back to life in 2003 by the Mechanics’ Trust, a group of volunteers who are bidding to preserve the decaying Mechanics’ Institute in the Railway Village.
Funded by a £7,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund and £6,000 from the WG Little Fund, as well as smaller payments by Swindon Council, the fete doubled as a potential fundraising opportunity for many local charities, including the Tamil Association and Swindon Lions Club.
Daniel Rose, of the Mechanics’ Trust, said he was delighted with the turnout.
He said: “I think it’s fantastic and I’m glad the sun came out because it does make a difference. We’ve tried to keep the fete as traditional as possible and even the stalls are laid out similar to how they were before the war.
“The fete is aimed at all ages and generations and is as relevant today as it was before. It is important that families have events they can share and this brings people together from across Swindon to celebrate the town we live in.
“In the distant past, children received a free 8oz slice of fruitcake but nowadays the children loved the range of decorated cupcakes, funded in part by a Big Lottery’s Awards For All grant.
“We also had an Elder Children’s marquee, some of which were well into their 80s and would perhaps have been to many of the original children’s fetes.
“It was a fantastic day and next year, for our tenth anniversary, we have even bigger plans. “We are looking for more people than ever to get involved and help create an event truly by and for the community.”
Dance acts The Bollywood Dreamers and the Swindon Dog Dancers kept youngsters entertained during the day, while local bands such as The Jess Hall Band and The Fixed led the evening into a climactic fireworks display which wowed the crowds.
John Richards, 35, of Rodbourne , said he and his two children enjoyed themselves.
He said: “I think it’s a great event and everyone was relaxed and having a good time.”
Anyone who wants to get involved in next year’s event or with the Mechanics Trust can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01793 520592.