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Yorkshire Section

Administrative area: Yorkshire (except that part of North Yorkshire included in the Northern Section) and Lincolnshire north of a line drawn between Gainsborough and Mablethorpe.

The Leeds Valentine’s Fair, held during the February half-term week, gets the season off to a fine start in this Section, with a large display of modern attractions. However, like most other parts of the country, it is not until Easter that the fairground business really gets into its stride in Yorkshire.

Heralding the start of the year’s first bank holiday weekend is the curiously named ‘Tittlecock Fair’, held on Good Friday in the former mining village of Conisbrough. A religious procession through the village in the morning, culminating in a service at the parish church, is followed by an afternoon at the fair. As has been the custom for well over a century, Heath Common near Wakefield hosts a large display of amusements on Easter Monday.

The fair at the small north Lincolnshire town of Brigg, held early in August, is around 800 years old and is celebrated in the folk song ‘Brigg Fair’, whose melody inspired works by the composers Frederick Delius and Percy Grainger. Fairground attractions in the market place at Ripon mark St Wilfrid’s Day in August, while at nearby Harrogate the bank holiday that month is the occasion for a fair on the town’s Stray, an area of common land.

In September, the running of the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster, first held in 1776 and the oldest of Britain’s five classic horseraces, is supported customarily by a funfair.

By far the largest fair in this Section and the highpoint of its year is Hull Fair. This was granted in 1599 and replaced a fair first held in 1299 that spanned May and June. Today it is one of Britain’s four biggest fairs and is held on a 14-acre site that was specially designated by the local authority as the fairground in 1888. It opens around 11 October and lasts for seven days. Following the conclusion of Hull Fair, many of the showmen head for the coast to attend Bridlington Fair, a fair established by charter in 1446.

The season closes with a number of former statute or hiring fairs, including those at Pontefract, Selby and Malton, where the fair is held in the market place next to the town’s parish church of St Michael.