Monday, May 4, 2015

May Fair: Small is beautiful

IMG_20150504_151831 (838x838)Monday is May Day, a bank holiday in a month (mid April to mid-May) that seems crowded with days off.  British friends assure me that it’s not the case, but the calendar from Easter to Half Term always seems full.

No matter: my (recent) philosophy is to take time away from work when nobody else is working.  So I scanned the What’s On pages to see what was on offer, alighting on the Bradfield Mayfayre

May Day falls on May 1, celebrated as the traditional spring holiday in many European countries. In England, it is celebrated with community Maypole dances (more Morris), singing, games and cakes.  Since 1886, International Workers Day has coincided with the DSC00659 (1400x773)May holiday across the Continent, and in the UK there are rallies to support working folks alongside the family fairs.

Its worth noting that the UK is proposing to move labor’s recognition to October to peg the end of tourist season, that the US celebrates (the less threateningly named) Labor Day in September, and the Dutch don’t recognize it at all (too close to the existing Queen’s King’s Day holiday).

Bradfield is a lovely village tucked into the rolling woodlands of Berkshire.  Their May Fair is a lovely jumble of country booths, food grills, charity stations, and game activities spread across the civic play fields and through the sunny afternoon.

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An a cappella school choir sang Let It Go, pigs raced around the center arena, children scrambled over tractors and jumped in the Bouncy Castle.  There was climbing, art, livestock, model trains, beer and cake…a lovely mash-up of summer camp and school picnic.

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I was reminded of the Puyallup (particularly the food and pig races).  But it was all condensed down to a smaller, more local and approachable scale that I really took to.

I have long been a fan of advocates for smaller economic and social groupings (Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful and Kohr’s Breakdown of Nations).  The gatherings are more distinctive and characteristic when fit to local cultures: People matter more.

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So, smaller, there were no stalls selling brand-name goods nor giant inflatable beer cans in Bradfield.

And, more beautifully, there were things from gardens, from farms, from school groups and hobbyists.

DSC00629 (852x1400)Silly hand-lettered signs announced raffles and (politician-themed) pun names for the pig race contestants.

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DSC00665 (1400x908)Local artists explained their techniques and created works for buyers.

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DSC00647 (1023x1400)Dads ‘n daughters competed in the motorbike wheelie contest, owls nearby.

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DSC00698 (1400x1017)Finally, the wheelbarrow race tickled my demons: we entered and lost.

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‘it was not pretty…(still somewhat small and beautiful, however)

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