Dozens of travellers make their way to Appleby for annual horse fair
11th August 2021

DOZENS of travellers from around the UK made their way to Appleby for the annual horse fair.

Visitors from the Gyspy, Roma and Travelling community arrived in Cumbria today for the 250-year-old event.

People were seen riding their horses through the river to cool down during the warm temperatures while others raced their carriages down the streets of the village.

Children played outside and helped their parents to care for the horses, while others hopped on the back of their horses for a spin.

Appleby Horse Fair was cancelled last year because of the pandemic and organisers set a new date for August 12. 

The fair was only cancelled one time before and that was in 2011 when there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth.

On a normal year the fair, which is the biggest traditional Gypsy fair in Europe, attracts around 10,000 Gypsies and 10,000 Travellers along with 10,000 caravans and 30,000 visitors.

Usually held in June, travellers made their way down to Cumbria earlier this year to mark the day it traditionally falls upon.

Last year, despite the fair being cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, travellers and fair-goers turned up in their masses.

A lone traveller trekked 200 miles to Appleby last year just because he "wanted to be there".

He travelled up in a transit van from King's Lynn, Norfolk – approximately a four-hour drive – for what would have been the start of festivities.

Kenneth, who attended the event for the past 15 years, told some people he made the trip because he needed to pick up some fertiliser.

Every year the horses are taken to be washed in the River Eden before they are trotted up and down the "flashing lane" on the main days of the festival.

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 occasion for Gypsies and Travellers.

Today police were called after locals claimed threats were made against them by travellers attending the fair.

Travellers were forced to set up camp at Upper Eden Rugby Club after their previous camp was sprayed with cow manure and was closed off by boulders.

Teeside Live reports that a "stand-off" happened after travellers blocked one of the roads.

Over the past years, the fair has generated allegations of animal cruelty which prompted the RSPCA to patrol the event.

The charity has said that just a small minority of attendees have ever shown little regard to the welfare of the horses.

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