When our boys were little we used to regularly go to the Weald Wood Fair at Bentley but we heard that the motor museum and the wildfowl centre had closed down so assumed the wood fair was not longer happening. So we were surprised when we had a message from our friend Josie asking if we could help out by playing a short set in the bar marquee. It’s been going for 15 years and we didn’t know!

The fair includes all kinds of stalls selling things made from wood, trees, other local produce and crafts, tools, information about woodland management etc. There is an arena where the Axemen battle it out (chopping wood, not eachother), sheepdog round up ducks, there are goats, sheep, falconry, pole lathe turning, plus a woodland area to explore.  There’s a miniature railway too! And the bar marquee, the Woodman’s Arms, which only exists for the fair and is a delight, selling cheese toasties, cider and beer  (our fee for the gig).

As we arrived the heavens had just opened and, although the fair had only been open an hour, cars were leaving already. But the car park was still very full. After a couple of failed attempts at finding where to unload – we’d been mistaken for part of the brass band –  we finally managed to park nearish to the entrance (no admittance under any circumstances) and had to lug our gear, including PA, into the field and round to the front of the marquee, in the pouring rain. Of course everyone was sheltering in the bar marquee, eating cheese toasties, and sitting all over the stage. Gradually they moved away as we started loading our gear onto the stage (squeezing through the damp crowds), which was just as well as I managed to trip and knock over a speaker which could have caused a nasty injury if anyone had been on the stage then!

As we started to play, the skies cleared and the sun came out and our audience mostly left to enjoy the rest of the fair. At one point we were literally playing to the bar staff as people had taken chairs outside and were sitting in the sun, but we had fun and those that had been there listening at various times, appreciated it. We sold some CDs and cards and had a lovely afternoon at a super event. There were several people there we knew so we had some good chatting time too.

Also, added bonus, we met a film star which we will have to write about separately as it was pretty special.

This isn’t a music event, music is an additional feature. The stall holders stay overnight and  a band plays in the evening, in the daytime they have the brass band, drummers and morris dancers, but there is the potential for more music which I really hope does happen as we’d love to play here again.


Thank you to Josie Ward for the photo.