THOUSANDS visited St James’ Fair in Kelso last weekend, writes Sally Gillespie.
Continental markets from France, 25 or so trade stands and entertainment filled The Square and Woodmarket over the two days.
Secretary of organisers Kelso Community Events (KCE), Pauline Massey, estimated 3-4,000 people attended, adding: “The weather was very kind to us with two days of lovely warm sunshine which certainly helps the enjoyment factor. Many were content to bask in the sunshine whilst they enjoyed this year’s performances. It went very well. The committee was fantastic and just got on with it, and the job was done with the help of volunteers.”
The fair – once famous for linen, cheese, wool and livestock – dates back to the 11th century when it was held in Friars Haugh and it was an annual gathering for gypsies to trade horses before ceasing in 1956.
KCE, supported by local traders and the community council, revived it during the early noughties, along with the stipulation that the fair had to be cried by a royal burgh representative – in Kelso’s case, the provost of Jedburgh.
A parade from the Tait Hall to the platform in The Square on Saturday morning heralded the start of 2012’s fair. MC Colin Henderson welcomed everyone and Kelso provost Fiona Scott also addressed the crowd before Jedburgh’s civic leader, Harvey Oliver, officially opened proceedings. Guest of honour Jim Currie crowned fair king and queen, Jamie Stenhouse and Tegan Taylor, who were accompanied by standard and cushion bearers, John Gibson and Anya Jane Leifer. Town crier Billy Paterson declared the fair open.
Entertainment over the weekend included sessions by the Lynella School of Dance and the Michelle Douglas School of Dance, performances by Kelso Amateur Operatic Society, and music from Riddle Fiddles, Rachel Waters, George Kennedy, the Small Hall Band and U-rang-U-tang, along with previous Borders Has Talent competition participants, including local favourites Josh and Jodie. Funfair rides were enjoyed by many and Kelso and District Amenity Society chairwoman and former history teacher Christine Henderson led a historical walk around Kelso.
Sunday’s ecumenical church service in The Square was led by the Reverend Tom McDonald, accompanied by Jedforest Instrumental Band with the younger section of the band, Abbey Brass, performing on stage following the service.