Sweet memories of Chatsworth Country Fair

Feature on Chatsworth Country Fair
Feature on Chatsworth Country Fair
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THIRTY years ago excitement was growing as preparations took place for the first Chatsworth Country Fair.

On September 5 1981 the event launched and it has showcased the best of the countryside to thousands ever since.

Now firmly on Derbyshire’s social calendar, the fixture has prospered through decades of massive change.

But life at the fair much remains the same, be it bringing town and country people together, the grand ring’s exact location and key figures behind the big day.

Brian Landale led the stewards, known as Red Socks, in 1981 and still does today after “been taken in the Chatsworth family.”

“I have always been there because I love it all”, said the 69-year-old.

“What I think is the really great thing about it is you stand there at the end absolutely exhausted and see people wandering back to their cars with smiles on their faces.

“Then you know it’s a good job done.”

The fair was born at a meeting between the current Duke of Devonshire Peregrine Cavendish, acting at his father’s request, and original organiser Andrew Cuthbert.

Mr Cuthbert, 76, recalled one of his many favourite memories.

“The year Princess Diana died we had The Band of The Brigade of Ghurkas and it rained, so much so the ground was a huge lake of water.

“It was teeming with rain and I said ‘Don’t bother coming on, you can’t possibly do your performance’.

“Everybody agreed except for the leader of the Ghurkas who said ‘We shall go on, the rain is Princess Diana crying and we shall perform for her.

“It was a very brilliant sight to see...it had me in tears myself.”

In 2002 Mr Cuthbert passed on the baton to Christopher Lloyd Owen.

Mr Lloyd Owen said: “It is testament to Andrew Cuthbert’s vision that so little has changed.

“It has evolved, grown, been tweaked here and there, many friends have moved on, many new faces appeared, but it is still essentially the same as the first, and as much fun for thousands.”

• BREATH-taking aerial acrobatics are flying back in to this year’s anniversary event – dedicated to the armed forces.

The Red Arrows will wow crowds with music, freefall or gun displays from all three services in the fair from September 2-4.

Top-class sheep and gundog trials, a fine food village with “cookery theatre”, large horse driving meet and major sporting clay pigeon shoot plus hands-on outdoor activities are on offer.

Former Yorkshire and England cricketer Michael Vaughan, of Baslow, is fair president. Tickets cost £15 on Friday, £17 on both Saturday and Sunday with under-14s admitted free. For more details visit www.chatsworthcountryfair.co.uk

By Ellen Beardmore