Monday, 18 October 2010

The greatest show on earth

Remember how I told you about the Humber Bridge and that if you’re from Hull it’s a law to love it?

There’s something else you have to love if you’re from Hull.

Hull Fair.

I feel I can confidently state that 99% of the people born in Hull have been at least once to Hull Fair. (And if they haven’t they’re frankly a little bit weird and we should probably disown them.)

It will be an integral part of any childhood memory. Somewhere, in the recesses of your mind you will remember what it felt like the first time you went on the waltzers or the big wheel or ate so much candyfloss, toffee apples, nougat, cinder toffee that you wanted to die. You’ll remember the first time you were allowed to go on your own. You’ll remember plucking up the courage to go on a ride that you really didn’t want to because you didn’t want to lose face in front of your friends.

You’ll remember the bus journeys there. Or the car journeys which took forever because you had to queue for what felt like hours to get into the car park. You’ll remember looking up into the sky at pretty much any point in Hull and being able to see the strobe lights in the sky. You’ll remember walking over the flyover on Anlaby Road and seeing the lights and becoming giddy with excitement.

You’ll remember the low buzz as you get closer and closer that grows and grows in volume until you reach Walton Street and all the street vendors and you get bowled over by the assault on your senses – chips and burgers and hot dogs and chestnuts and people yelling and shouting in every direction.

You'll remember the sheer joy you got from the first time you won a prize on Hook a Duck. Or Hook a Pingu or whatever other animal it is - this year it was Hook a Polar Bear. And no, I didn't win one. Very upsetting.

Man alive it’s brilliant.

And so I insist on going every year. Because really Hull Fair is not for children, I don’t think you can enjoy it properly until you’re an adult and can freely admit you’re terrified and concentrate on the fair and not trying to look cool in front of boys you’re never going to see again and it’s even better when you’re not so grown up that you have to be responsible for a child of your own.

You can eat whatever you like and your Mum isn’t going to stop you. Bob Carvers chips and a dirty great big burger on the way home? Yes please.

Every single year I forget how loud Hull Fair is. Conversation is impossible and actually kind of unnecessary – there’s so much to look at you don’t want to miss out by talking to someone. I also forget how much of a vacuum it is for money – nothing seems to be that expensive yet suddenly your purse is empty, how does that happen?! (Yes the chips and the burger might have had something to do with that.)

I went with Dorothy at the end of last week to the penultimate day. We behaved like teenagers and screamed our heads off on the rides. We went on The Wild Mouse, a small little rollercoaster, it’s not massive, it’s not long, it’s probably aimed more at children and yet more noise came from the pair of us than anyone else. There were 2 grown women, waiting for their children to come off it who were killing themselves laughing at us.

Because that’s really what Hull Fair is all about. The people. You don’t have to go on anything, you just need to wander about and look at stuff and marvel at the insane rides that people are willing to go on. And laugh at the barely clothed girls, shivering their heads off but determined to look ‘sexy’ in the hopes of bagging a traveller. You can stand in the queues and work out everyone’s story. The university students who look excited but slightly terrified and out of their depth (Hull Fair is seriously, seriously big, do not underestimate it and always have a meet-up point in case of separation.), the school kids who have been allowed to go on their own and are spending more time snogging than enjoying any of the rides, the slightly uncomfortable looking middle-aged, middle class couple who don’t really know what they’re doing there...the sights are endless.

Last year was the first time I went on the big wheel and it scared the beejebus out of me. This year I was much braver and felt (slightly) less afraid. God know why I’m scared, you’re fully enclosed in a little carriage and you’re not going to fall anywhere, it’s just so bloody high. And it doesn’t help that the men working on it think it’s just hilarious to spin you round and round as you pass by.

I could stay there all night. I could go on everything (but not the waltzers, after an unfortunate vomiting incident a few years ago I haven’t been able to face going back on them since) the only thing that stops me is the fact that everyone gets the fear when they get older and don’t want to go on the scary rides and also the fact that I’m not made of money.

But I love it. I love it with every inch of my being and I will always do my best to go every year. I can’t not, it’s in my blood.


  1. Another story to put you off going back on the waltzers...
    I was providing first aid cover for a funfair about 6 months ago, and a 14-year-old girl riding the waltzers got thrown 20ft out of them, landing straight on her bum on the concrete floor and breaking her coccyx. I think another 3 or 4 people ended up going to hospital with possible spinal injuries that day too, all because of the same ride. I wasn't put off funfair rides before but I don't think I'll be going on any ever again after that day!

    That being said, I still love the funfair atmosphere. At a racecourse near where I live they have a huge fair at the beginning of November that finishes with a spectacular fireworks display. I love immersing myself in the lights and the sounds, and eating so much candy floss that my teeth hurt from all the sugar. Sadly I can't go any more now that I'm at uni, and as the majority of the population of Cornwall is past the age of enjoying a funfair there aren't any round here that are quite the same.

  2. Wow! Thats a fair and a half! Youve made me titter this morning with your tales of vomit!!! xxxxx

  3. ooooo - it's been ages since I went to a fair. I'm from Nottingham originally so we have Goose Fair. Hull Fair looks HUGE!

    It's the Waltzers for me all the way - you'd never catch me on a big wheel as I'm petrified of heights.

    You've taken some great pics.


  4. Wow - it's enormous! The bit about eating so much you want to die resonated with me - I ate so much sugar and rubbish in Blackpool at the weekend that I still felt ill on Monday :(

  5. That was such a sweet account of how much you love it!! You know I don't feel the same about it, but reading your description does make it sound magical x

  6. Ooooh I love the waltzers! They're one of the only ride I always go on as I hate heights! This fair looks brill, it's massive! We used to have a big one in Belfast, but there is none near me now :(

  7. God it's massive! I can't remember the last time I went to a fair but I am a complete sucker for waltzers and especially Hook A Duck. Not quite so sure how I feel about Hook A Polar Bear though - it just doesn't seem quite right.

  8. Wow it's huge! I'm fine with the big wheel as I don't mind heights, but I don't like spinny around/ upside downy things = vomit central lol.

  9. one time at Banbury Fair, I was on a big wheel type ride and it got stuck when we were at the top. SCARY! Hull Fair looks awesome though, how lovely that you have that excitement and anticipation about it rather than the dread that fills most people when Banbury Fair comes to town.


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