Foodies, families, music fans and shopaholics rejoice – The Wimbledon Guild Village Fair returns to Wimbledon Common on Saturday 18 June 2016. Last year, 35,000 visitors soaked up the atmosphere and this year is set to be bigger and better with a petting farm, jousting nights, craft stalls and craft beer from the Wimbledon Brewery
Words: Madeleine Howell
This year, you can even get hold of your very own golden ticket, just like Charlie Bucket. The Fair Golden Token Fun Voucher gives families the chance to take advantage of an exclusive six-for-the-price-of-five offer for the kids’ attractions if you buy them in advance online. The attractions include the usual bouncy castle and soft play, but also zorbing, laser tag and a climbing wall.
New attractions for 2016 include a jousting show, a petting farm with sheep and goats from Deen City Farm, and even falconry displays, with the opportunity to get up close and personal with owls and eagles from the Hawking Centre.
Animal lovers can also look forward to the dog show, a highlight that Wendy Pridmore, Chief Executive of the Wimbledon Guild, is particularly excited about. ‘It’s a bit of fun, not serious pedigree stuff at all,’ she says. ‘The children can get involved, and there’s dressing up with lots of games.’
If you’re feeling a bit peckish after all of that frolicking, there are also street food carts and a farmers’ market showing off Wimbledon’s vibrant food scene. ‘There’ll be lots of local businesses represented,’ Pridmore assures me. ‘Healthy options, naughty treats – and, of course, lots of Pimm’s!’
As well as Pimm’s, roisterers can try out craft beer from the Wimbledon Brewery, who are sponsoring the event and will be serving their own range along with Aspall cider. For shoppers, a high-quality standard of stalls will be selling handcrafted wares including jewellery, artwork and sculpture. ‘We select stalls that offer artisan products, a bit quirky, that you might not find in the shops,’ explains Pridmore. ‘We want to offer lots of really attractive or unusual special items for people to buy.’
We all know what the British summer is like and we’re all troopers. Even when the weather isn’t so good, people still come because there’s just so much to do. It’s a big day out, but very community-based and relaxed
That’s not to mention music and live performances throughout the day, on the stage and in the jazz tent. Dancebites, Wimbledon’s Academy of Dance and Performing Arts, will be putting on three shows – a tap routine and two commercial street pieces. ‘This will be our 7th year performing at the fair. It’s amazing,’ says founder Samantha Lindsay. ‘The kids absolutely love showcasing their routines and a lot of them are really talented.’
Even if it rains, Pridmore is confident that the event will be a success. ‘We all know what the British summer is like and we’re all troopers,’ she says. ‘It’s nice to get out with the kids on a wet day instead of being cooped up indoors. Even when the weather isn’t so good, people still come because there’s just so much to do. Hopefully, it will be the beginning of the lovely summer weather. It’s a big day out, but very community-based and relaxed.’
It’s Pridmore’s fourth year at the Guild, and she is full of praise for the work it does for the residents of Wimbledon – primarily tackling poverty, supporting ageing and encouraging mental wellbeing. ‘The resources available to councils are being cut all the time so we try to plug those gaps,’ she explains.
‘Although we live in such a lovely area, there’s still a lot of need. Wimbledon has a fantastic community, but within it there are people who are really struggling. We have 350 volunteers and a counselling service to prevent people from getting to crisis point.’ Recently, the new Compass service has seen the Guild work with health services to help people to cope with bereavement.
Other regular events run by the Guild include a popular curry and comedy night with Clapham Comedy Club and the Sai restaurant in Raynes Park, as well as a programme of personal challenge events such as the L’Etape du Tour cycle race and marathon sponsorships – but the Wimbledon Guild Village Fair is a key fundraising fixture which each year allows the Guild to continue providing vital support. ‘It’s just such a brilliant, fun day out. Just by attending, you’ll be making a difference,’ Pridmore concludes. Pimm’s o’clock it is!
The Wimbledon Guild Village Fair takes place on Wimbledon Common on Saturday 18 June from 10.30am-5pm. See wimbledonguildvillagefair.org.uk