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Camden New Journal - By DAN CARRIER
Published: 27 March 2008
Smaller crowds enjoy fun of bank holiday fairs

THE long-term future of traditional fairs on Hampstead Heath is in doubt after the Easter bank holiday saw record low numbers of visitors.
The fairs, which have been held on East Heath for more than 100 years, have slowly declined in size with visitors and stalls falling steadily over the past five years.
The bank holiday show saw the fair close early each night and ride owners note that rides and stalls were often empty.
A report to the Heath’s management committee this week has revealed that the Showmen’s Guild – who arrange travelling attractions – have said they fear for the fair at the top of the Heath, by Spaniards Lane, despite an advertising campaign to attract extra stalls and rides.
The fairs have in recent years been dogged by problems with noise and trouble between groups of youngsters.
South End Green Association chairwoman Pam Gilby blamed rising costs for putting off visitors.
She said: “It was closed by seven in the evening on Sunday and it is normally on till 10. The weather plays a big part in crowds but also there is the cost. For a family it can become very expensive.”
She added it would be a serious blow to the Heath and area if the fairs were to stop coming. She said: “They have been here for so many years, it would be a shame if the Hampstead Fair was just to peter out.”
But Heath staff say the fairs had no vacant plots and because Easter was early this year, numbers were expected to be lower.
A spokesman said: “As far as the City is concerned, it was still very successful.
“Regarding the top fair, numbers have declined in recent years.
“The City is working closely to support the fair organisers as much as it can. Ultimately, the decision on whether to continue running the fair or not, and in what format, is one primarily for the organisers.”

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