Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Newent Onion Fayre, 2017

According the Fayre’s 2017 programme, by the end of the thirteenth century Newent, Gloucestershire, was a thriving market town where ‘Welsh drovers, passing through to Gloucester, would purchase onions [Allium cepa] at the town’s newly established Onion Fayre’, held on the Friday after 8 September, the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   This fayre survived until the early part of the twentieth century, until ‘the war years saw its demise’.    However, in 1996 local people decided to revive the fayre as a ‘festival to celebrate local food and drink.’  It is now claimed to be ‘Gloucestershire’s largest free one-day event’.

In 2017 the Fayre was held on Saturday 9 September, starting with a ‘grand opening’ at 9.45 a.m.  Stalls, mainly supporting local charities, and fairground rides  filled the main street, there was a shop-window dressing competition, an onion eating competition, three stages offering a variety of musical entertainment, a dog show, and a wide range of other entertainments, including belly-dancers.

In the Memorial Hall there was an Onion Show: ‘the only vegetable show in the country dedicated to the onion family’.   This included a range of classes for onions of various kinds, garlic (A. sativum), chives (A. schoenoprasum), leeks (A. porrum), cookery, and ‘vegetable characters’ which ‘must include vegetables from the onion family’.

Update: On 9 June 2022 GloucesterLive reported that after a two year break due to covid the Fayre would not be held in 2022; the ‘momentum surrounding the fayre had been lost’.

Images:  upper, general view, at about 1.30 p.m.; middle, shop-window display, New Smart Cat Rescue charity shop; lower, first prize winner, heaviest onion class (weighing 3.740 kg).

Updated 25 October 2022.

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