Thousands of travellers arrive for first day of Appleby Horse Fair – as locals close school and pubs | The Sun

THOUSANDS of travellers have made their way to Cumbria today for the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair.

Around 40,000 people from the gypsy, Roma and travelling communities are expected to attend the annual event which dates back some 250 years.

It attracts people from all over Europe and is thought to be the largest gathering of the community on the continent.

Locals have closed a school in the area and pubs have already shut as the fair gets underway today.

Organisers for the fair said at least 11 pubs in both Appleby and Kirby Stephen have confirmed they will be closed for the duration of the event.

This year’s Appleby Horse Fair was delayed by a week by the organisers to avoid clashing with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

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Usually the event takes place at the beginning of June but was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and it was postponed the following year.

Cumbria Police are urging motorists to take care on the roads in the area and have asked the public to report any concerns they may have.

The force said it has made arrests for theft and drug driving.

Les Clark, Chair of the Appleby Horse Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Coordinating Group (MASCG) said: “All the agencies involved in responding to the fair were keen to reach a compromise that enabled both the settled communities of Appleby and the surrounding areas and the Gypsy and Traveller communities to arrange and enjoy both celebrations.

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“We're grateful to the Gypsy and Traveller representatives in the Multi-Agency Strategic Coordinating Group for being flexible on moving the date of next year's fair to accommodate the celebrations of the Queen's Jubilee.

“As part of this mutually agreed compromise, a delegation of representatives from the Gypsy and Traveller Community will gather in the Fair field on Wednesday 8 June, to reinforce the traditional dates of the Fair.

“The MASCG will also engage with those communities that normally accommodate people travelling to the fair in the days before to ensure that the impact on their Jubilee celebrations is minimalised as well as reinforcing a strong, 'Do not come early' message to those wishing to attend the Fair.”

Billy Welch, a member of the Multi Agency Co-ordinating Group, and representative for gypsy and travellers, said: “In the spirit of compromise and mutual respect that led to the cancellation of the Fair in 2020 and its postponement in 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I'm pleased that we have been able to reach agreement on the dates for next year's fair.

“This decision will enable the settled communities in and around Appleby to mark the Queen's Jubilee, while preserving the Fair's historic association with the town at a time that's as close to the traditional dates, as is possible.'

“It has also been agreed that, after last three years in which the traditional dates for the Fair have been disrupted for different reasons, we will return to the traditional dates in 2023.”

Earlier this week, a horse died and three people were injured in a crash on Monday when a bow top van pulled by two horses; a box van and a pickup truck were involved in a collision at North Stainmore on the border between Cumbria and Durham.

The A66 is one of the main routes into Appleby from North Yorkshire and Durham.


Chief Superintendent Matt Kennerley, Gold Commander for Appleby Horse Fair from Cumbria Police said: “At this time of year we always urge drivers to be particularly careful on the county’s roads.

"The likelihood of encountering slow-moving traffic is high so we must all be attentive behind the wheel.

“I urge people to take particular care on the A66, where fast-moving vehicles can come across slow-moving, often horse-drawn, vehicles and also the A685 in the vicinity of Kirkby Stephen, where there are caravans and horses by the side of the road.

"Whilst we already have large numbers of officers in these areas, we have further increased our resourcing here, to reassure people and help keep everyone safe.

“By being aware of the potential dangers, we can all do our part to make sure everyone reaches their destination safely and without incident.”

In 2006 a traveller from Durham was killed and his teenage son injured after a car collided with their horse-drawn caravan on the road as they were making their way to the Fair.

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The fair originated in the 1770s on Gallows Hill where sheep, cattle and horse dealers went to sell their stock.

By the 1900s it had evolved into an event for gypsies and travellers.

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