THERE wasn’t room to swing a reindeer as more people than ever visited Bury St Edmunds’ three-day Christmas Fayre.
Organiser Sharon Fairweather said more than 80,000 people attended over three days with The Apex alone drawing 20,000 while 500 children saw Santa in his Abbey Gardens Grotto. More than 400 people used Bury Town Council’s free Sunday Christmas hail and ride shopping bus on its first operating day and trains arrived full.
Though rain held off, high winds on Sunday morning meant fewer stalls for the fayre’s first farmers’ market. Sharon said: “A lot of them are not used to trading outside and didn’t have gazeebos that would stand up to the wind.”
But foodies still had plenty of choice with cheeses from as far apart as Normandy and Lincolnshire, beers from all over Suffolk, local game in the farmers’ market and the town’s packed restaurants and cafés backed up by stalls selling everything from hot sausages to crepes.
Stalls and folk music in Hatter Street for the first time drew people off the main route from The Butter Market to Angel Hill.
Bid4Bury chief executive Mark Cordell said the fayre was a success. He added: “We’re in a recession but we’ve had a brilliant turnout for the lights switch-on and a brilliant turnout for the Christmas Fayre. How many other towns have had 80,000 people through in the past couple of days?”
But while visitors had fun, the fayre was a working weekend for a group of St Edmundsbury borough councillors and officers making up a ‘task and finish’ team who are looking into the fayre and its impact on the town for the overview and scrutiny committee.
Committee chairman David Nettleton said: “Some people are not happy with it but a lot are happy so we’re looking at the whole of the weekend, finding out what people think.
“We’ve been doing this for eight years, could it be working better?”
Meanwhile, Sharon and her team will start again in January, taking bookings from stall holders for 2012.