Fair meeting hailed a success by all parties

Members of St Boswells Community Council met with representatives of the travelling community to discuss the future of St Boswells Fair
Members of St Boswells Community Council met with representatives of the travelling community to discuss the future of St Boswells Fair
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Representatives of gypsy families and St Boswells Community Council met on Saturday to discuss the future of the village’s traditional fair.

The fair, which dates back several hundred years on the village green alone, attracts gypsies from around the country, but numbers have dropped steadily in recent years.

In an attempt to halt its decline, and ensure the tradition lives on for many years to come, the community council instigated a meeting with representatives of the gypsy families in attendance this year.

Dougie Oliver, community council chairman, said: “This is the first time a meeting like this has happened, and I, and the gypsy representatives, agree it should have happened years ago.

“We are trying to keep the fair going. It has been dwindling and it would be a shame if it finished after more than 200 years. We want to try and promote it.”

Mr Oliver added: “We feel it is our fair as well as theirs.”

The community council will assist in putting on and promoting a special exhibition in the village next year around the fair date, July 18, in an attempt to educate those new to the village about the history of the fair, and also promote greater integration between villagers and the gypsies during fair week.

George Higgs, chairman of Borders Equality Forum, chaired Saturday’s meeting.

He welcomed the opening up of communication between the community and the gypsy families.

Mr Higgs said meetings of this sort were vital in Borders communities with gypsy links, to preserve the associated heritage and traditions.

“It is a must, and the only way to do it is to sit down together. It breaks down barriers and dispels stereotypes.

“People can work together and on the whole they all have the common aims,” he added.

Mr Higgs said: “I think the Borders should be proud of the historical connections it has with the traditional gypsy culture, and having an exhibition is an opportunity to show this, not only to the locals living around the area of the St Boswells Fair, but also newcomers to the Borders.

“I hope this will become a future part of the fair for many years to come.”

Mr Higgs added: “When speaking to the gypsy families, they all said that the St Boswells Fair is not a campsite but a fair, and they would welcome anyone onto the Green, not just for a day, but for the duration, to join in with the traditional aspects of it.”

This year, just a handful of caravans, both new and traditional, were parked up on St Boswells Green around fair week.