Tavistock Goose Fair, one of Devon’s most popular annual events, made a welcome return in 2022 after a lapse of two years due to the Covid pandemic. Once again, thousands of people converged on the town to support this time-honoured fair, which has a history going back over 800 years.
Fair day always takes place on the second Wednesday in October, which this year fell on the 12 of the month. As usual, many of the town centre roads were closed to traffic, which was replaced with an abundance of funfair attractions, market traders, food vendors and charity stalls to create a very special atmosphere. The livestock market also formed part of the day’s activities, though sadly the live geese sale had to be cancelled due to the outbreak of bird flu.
As always, the fair was administered by the two local authorities comprising Tavistock Town Council and West Devon Borough Council.
Both parties work closely with various branches of the Rowland family, who provide and operate the funfair attractions at several locations around the town centre.
The main area of attractions could be found in the Bedford car park under the auspices of Thomas Rowland Amusements, which these days is run by Alan Jenkins Jnr, the grandson of Thomas Rowland.
This section of the fair not only opens on fair day, but from the night before fair day up until the following Saturday.
The bus station and the car park beside the police station were again full of attractions presented by Rowland Brothers Amusements. The town square and the half-mile length of Plymouth Road, with their mixture of amusements and trade stands, were under the jurisdiction of the local authorities.
On the Tuesday night before fair day there was a short opening ceremony, which took place on Thomas Rowlands Amusements’ Atlanta dodgems.
Both local authorities were well represented and those present included Tavistock Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr Paul Ward and his wife Jane; the Mayor of West Devon, Cllr Caroline Mott and her consort Kevin Mott; and civic dignitaries from neighbouring towns, local councillors and council officers.
On hand to meet the civic party was Tommy Rowland, along with his daughter Nicola, grandson Alan Jenkins Jnr and his wife Michele.
After the initial speeches the party was given a conducted tour of the amusements, before retiring to The Wharf bar and reception venue for light refreshments. The following day the Showmen were among the guests present at a reception in the town hall given by the mayor and town council.
Prior to fair day the event received some valuable publicity from local radio, television and newspapers, who were keen to report that this historic fair was making a welcome return to the town following the disruption caused by the pandemic. The same media outlets even featured the fair on the main day with regular live broadcasts, while the various lessees’ own social media pages also played a role in advertising the event.
The weather on fair day began dry but overcast, and though a steady spell of rain set in from mid afternoon, this didn’t deter the fairgoers. The following three days of the fair were very pleasant, with plenty of warm sunshine during the day. Alan Jenkins Snr told us that fair day was the best day for trade, and that the Showmen he had spoken to since were satisfied with the visit.
Tavistock Goose Fair attractions
At the various locations around the town there was a total of 15 large rides, and seven of these were on a first time visit to this fair. Looking absolutely splendid, and only a few weeks old, was Rowland Brothers’ new King Sizzler Twist, which was open in the bus station area.
In the Bedford car park the Rowland brothers also presented their five month old Fairtrade waltzer for the first time, while Alan and Michele Jenkins had their recently purchased Over the Falls Booster there.
The three other new attractions in this part of the fair were Edward Evans’ Thriller Express Matterhorn and Crazy Frogs and Leigh Danter’s Super Star. The final fresh attraction was Aaron Phillips’ Round-Up, which could be found in the town square.
There were also three newcomers to the fair among the supporting attractions, including Jamie Hurrell’s recently acquired Jumbo fun house in the main car park.
Joby Farrell presented his new Crazy fun house in the car park beside the police station, and down in station Barron Phillips brought along his Hotel of Terror.
The smaller children were not forgotten, and they had a good selection of attractions to choose from including Leigh Danter’s Helicopter ride, which was here for the first time.
Lawrence Appleton Jnr was present once more with his arcade, the only one at the fair, which was situated in Plymouth Road. It joined two other attractions along the half-mile stretch, comprising James Kefford’s square slip and Phillip Kefford’s train ride. Completing the fair was a good selection of stalls, hooplas and catering kiosks.
Major attractions at Tavistock included:
- Thomas Rowland Funfairs’ Atlanta dodgems
- Rowland Brothers’ waltzer and Extreme Orbitor
- Leigh Danter’s Super Star
- Anderton & Rowlands’ No2 waltzer (George DeVey Jnr) and Sizzler Twist
- Alan and Michele Jenkins’ Booster, tagada and Terminator Miami
- Edward Evans’ Crazy Frogs and Matterhorn
- Phillip Kefford’s ghost train
- Jamie Hurrell’s Jumbo Circus fun house
- Phillip Rawlings’ Circus fun house
- Rowland Brothers’ King Sizzler Twist
- Barron Philips’ Hotel of Terror
- David Rowland Jnr & Sons’ Gallopers
- Joby Farrell’s Crazy fun house
- Whitelegg & Farrell’s Sizzler Twist
- Aaron Phillips’ Round-Up.