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Strawberry Fair is a local festival of music, entertainments, arts and crafts which has been held in Cambridge, England, since 1974. The fair is held on Midsummer Common on the first Saturday in June. It is open to the public and free and totally independent from any council-run events.
It was announced on 19 March 2010 that the 2010 Strawberry Fair had been cancelled by the organisers due to 'continuing hostility' from Cambridgeshire Police, who had appealed against Cambridge City Council's decision to grant the Fair a license for 2010.After a year's hiatus, the fair continued in a new form, with a perimeter fence erected around the festival and searches to check for excess alcohol, drugs and weapons.
The 2011 parade was part of the UK Centre for Carnival Arts 'Carnival Crossroads' project and featured colourful costumes and samba bands. New to the 2011 fair was a Village Green area with traditional community activities such as re-enactment displays, It's A Knockout, fancy dress pageant and a grand finale. Other attractions were the Wigwam Stage, The Green Area, Kids Area, the acoustic and cabaret bar, and Colonel Maybey's Mechanical Menagerie a new 'steam diesel punk' area, in addition to around 300 stalls selling food and goods from all over. Entry to the fair was free. As in recent years (since 2004) the fair held a free 'film night' the previous day featuring short films made by local people. The fair has always had a strong following of alternative lifestyles and is one of the few free festivals left in the UK that attracts 'new age' travellers.
Music and art
A range of musical genres are represented at the fair across several music stages. Local bands are predominantly selected to play; however those from further afield also feature. The local band competition also allows local musical talent to come forward and get a chance to play live on a stage in front of a live audience. Children are catered for by totally free and enclosed entertainments area that includes face painters, a family friendly cafe, a marquee full of activities like painting and crafts, storytelling and many other attractions. An Arts area also allows local art to be displayed and for visitors to the fair on the day to try their hand at something new.
The fair has been screening short films since 2004, but from 2010 a brand new event, the Strawberry Shorts (film festival), will have a focus on local Cambridgeshire talent with its Best New Local Filmmakers Competitive Programme. In addition, Strawberry Shorts will screen short films made by national and international filmmakers. The film festival also features a team of performance artists who take on traditional cinema roles including usherettes and popcorn sellers.
From the constitution, the purpose of the fair is:
- "The object of the Fair shall be to hold a Fair, called Strawberry Fair, annually on Midsummer Common, Cambridge, on the first (1st) Saturday in June, for the benefit of the local community, particularly the children. The Fair shall have free entry and entertainments, including music and theatre."
The fair is run by a committee of local people from Cambridge who elect a Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary each year in September/October to form a Steering Group. Sub-committees also operate in order to discuss specific areas of the fair's operation, namely Programming, Finance and Admin, Policy and Community, and Site. The heads of these sub-committees report back at monthly General Meetings - weekly closer to the fair - which provides accountability and allows for the approval (or otherwise) of proposals put forward by the sub-committees.
Approximately a thousand people volunteer their time to make Strawberry Fair happen, which is seen by the committee as one of its greatest aspects. These volunteers include members of the committee itself, stewards, an environment team, area coordinators, stage managers, backstage staff, stalls co-ordinators, and many people 'behind the scenes' that undertake hours of administration.
The fair operates as a free event thanks to the efforts of all the volunteers who help every year. Income from the stalls that come on-site allows the fair to meet its infrastructure and overhead costs. Benefit gigs are held throughout the year to raise money. The local bands that play these gigs usually also play on the day of the fair. Strawberry Fair also organise and run the Cambridge Band Competition each year held in local pubs The Portland and the Blue Moon, with the final at The Junction. Strawberry Fair merchandise - including T-shirts, badges, programmes and posters - is also sold from Information Tents on Fair days and at benefit and band competition heats and final.
- "Police bid to ban Strawberry Fair". Cambridge-news.co.uk. 2010-02-27. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
- Strawberry Fair official website
- Strawberry Shorts official film festival website
- Cambridge News — Volunteers make a fair team
- BBC Cambridgeshire — Strawberry Fair 2009
- Friends of Starwberry Fair