St James’ Fair to be mothballed

Kelso's St James' Fair 2014.
Kelso's St James' Fair 2014.

Another Borders winter fair looks set to be wound up, as organisers of St James’ Fair in Kelso have announced the event is being mothballed.

It comes just weeks after organisers of Scott’s Selkirk announced that a special general meeting will be held later this month at which it will be proposed that the town’s 15-year-old winter weekend festival be dissolved.

Kelso's St James' Fair 2014.

Kelso's St James' Fair 2014.

As we reported in December, the Selkirk event’s future looked uncertain after visitor numbers and takings fell in recent years, and several appeals by the small, ageing committee for more younger volunteers had failed.

Now comes a statement from those behind St James’ Fair that its own diminishing committee cannot run another fair.

Writing in the February edition of Kelso Life, Peter Fry, chairman of Kelso Community Events, says organisers would struggle to run a fair in 2015 without more help.

“Recent changes also mean our fundraising capabilities have been seriously curtailed and, as we do not rely on year-on-year funding, it will be especially hard to guarantee the necessary funds for 2015,” he states.

Mr Fry said the situation is no reflection on Scottish Borders Council, Kelso Community Council or the town’s Charity Begins at Home organisation, which have all supported the event over the years.

He added: “The commitment and effort by the committee has, for many years, been exemplary and it is with heavy hearts we agreed to mothball St James’ Fair and put all our energies into future Christmas lights switch-on events.

“The door is always open to resume the fair, but it would require working input from at least six new people to raise funds, promote, design, market, administrate, organise and facilitate the event.”

Kelso provost John Bassett, a member of Kelso Community Events for many years, says there is only so much that can be done with a dwindling committee.

“It’s very sad, but as you know most committees in Kelso consist of the same people, and, as the chairman said, if we can get new people to come onto the committee, we will get the St James’ Fair up and running again.

“So, if the people of Kelso wish to have St James’ Fair, we need them to help us by joining the committee.”

Local SBC member Tom Weatherston also hopes the event could be resurrected in the future.

He said: “It’s disappointing to lose St James’ Fair as there is no doubt it raised the footfall in the town over the weekend and it was great to see the kids in the crowning ceremony, and so many people young and old enjoying what was on offer.

“Hopefully, it may be able to make a comeback in the future; the small committee always worked very hard to put on the show, but every year the challenges got bigger and fundraising for an event of this scale, year after year, is not easy.”

SBC colleague, Alec Nicol, added: “I agree with the summary which chairman Peter Fry makes about St James’ Fair. Selkirk must be in the same boat as Scott’s Selkirk also seems to be lacking the support these functions need.”