Putting on a September Fair in Knutsford was a gamble that paid off in 2021 for John Collins and family. But how did they and their tenants fare when they returned last autumn?
The success enjoyed by the Showmen in Knutsford in September 2021 was down to a unique set of circumstances. Chiefly there had not been a fair on The Heath for almost two and a half years, there was also some relatively good weather.
And with only half the number of machines usually seen at the town’s famous May Day fair, there didn’t need to be the same amount of visitors for everyone to get a living.
Not only had the post-lockdown thirst for events fizzled out during 2022, the fair held from September 8 to 18 was the third fair in 12 months, the May Day gathering having returned for 2022.
The Queen’s passing
Then the Queen died.
After the news of Her Majesty’s passing broke soon after opening on the first day, the Showmen began shutting up shop. The lessee put a notice on social media the following lunchtime, declaring that the fair would remain closed for one further day (until Saturday) as a mark of respect.
When the fair finally opened properly on Saturday, in lieu of a minute’s silence there was no music for the first hour. John Collins Jnr also asked tenants to remove flags that they could not fly at half mast. One exception were the World Fun Fair Month flags on the poles to the dodgems, but that hardly seemed disrespectful.
John did not cancel the Transformers characters booked for the first weekend, nor the fireworks on the second Saturday, mindful that the pyrotechnic display the previous year got an even bigger turnout than that usually held on the Sunday night of the May Day fair.
Advertised to close on Tuesday and Wednesday, the fair didn’t open on the Monday either due to rain. The second weekend was disappointing in terms of business. Whilst the fireworks did bring a few people out, there were nothing like the crowds seen either at the May Day fair or the previous September.
Because Gandey’s Circus was due to visit after the fair left, the Showmen had to build up on the back of The Heath this time. The machine line-up was almost identical to the previous year, but in a different, triangular shaped, layout.
Knutsford September Fair attractions
The only major changes were the addition of the Anthony Cubbins’ dodgems and Triangle Attractions’ Police Station fun house, after its star appearance back in May. David James Hackett’s Crazy Chase coaster took the place of Macauley Hart’s caterpillar coaster.
Other major rides and attractions comprised of:
- John Collins’ Superbowl, Sizzler twist and Miami
- David Taylor’s Waltzer and Booster Maxxx
- Gary Michael Leach’s Dumbos
- David James Hackett’s Ski Jump
- William Bradley’s Blizzard super bob
- Michael Houghton’s Top Star
- Baron Hart’s Polar Express Matterhorn
- Aaron Holland’s ghost train
- Max Cubbins’ Terror Towers ghost train
- Merson Cubbins’ runaway train
- plus fun houses from Lawrence Hill, Ronald Joe Cubbins, Warren Taylor and Aaron Holland.
A sizeable selection of supporting equipment included no fewer than 10 inflatables, with Aaron Holland, Robert Hill and Merson Cubbins each clustering several together.
Few Showmen expected this fair to do as well as the previous year, when people were keen to get out and do something after lockdown.
However, the death of the Queen meant it was difficult to judge whether a back end fixture is sustainable in addition to the May Day Fair. The Collins family would certainly have been kicking themselves if they hadn’t tried. Or if indeed somebody else had.
Main photo: Nathan Jones’ meteorite and John Collins’ Sizzler feature in this aerial view taken on the first Saturday of the fair from Triangle Attractions’ fun house.