Dress-up fun for all the family at Clonakilty’s Old Time Fair

It’s time to dust off those bloomers, waistcoats and bowler hats as Clonakilty Old Time Fair opens a window on the past for a new generation on July 6. With prizes for best dressed child, couple, shop staff and more, the organisers encourage all visitors to raid their local charity shop (or grandad’s wardrobe) for costumes from all eras of Irish history – be a lord or a labourer!

The Old Time Fair was originally conceived in 1991 as a replacement for the much-loved Busking Festival and is so well done that Aer Lingus once featured it in its Cara magazine! This year the organisers want to encourage new visitors from far and wide to come and experience this wonderful free festival that offers live music and street entertainment, art and craft demonstrations, vintage costumes, cars, machinery, steam engines and more.

The highlight of the festival has always been the number of locals and visitors who arrive in costume to fully partake in the festivities – they instantly create a party atmosphere on the specially pedestrianised streets. Accompanying street bands every year you will see spontaneous dancing by little lords and ladies, farm labourers and kitchen maids! This year will be no different as ‘The Ambling Band’ from Bristol are returning with their unique repertoire of samba, rumba and swing. As their name suggests the band (all dressed in stand out pink) amble along the streets to entertain the masses and will also put on two gigs in DeBarras over the weekend.

Young and old will appreciate the fascinating demonstrations of ancient crafts such as basket weaving, copper smithing, iron mongering, butter making and pottery. And a visit to the fortune teller, in her original ‘Wanderly Wagon’ (supplied by The Model Village), is a must.

Children will love getting up close with farm animals including pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, geese and more and can pose any questions to the farmer, who will be happy to educate on the animals’ habits, likes and dislikes!

A tea party in Emmet Square from 2-4pm will offer refreshments to all and is a chance for the patients of local hospitals, who are special guests, to join in the fun of the day. The tea party is accompanied by live dancing.

There will also be majestic steam engines (supplied by Declan Lordan, Bandon), intricate machinery (supplied by Alan Barry, Halfway) and lots of vintage cars, bicycles and tractors. In fact, four highly skilled ladies from Crookstown will dissemble and reassemble a tractor before your eyes so you can see all the working parts. On every street corner there will be displays of old wares, bric-a-brac and other fascinating curiousities.

To close off the day, everyone – and everything still roadworthy – is invited to join in the Parade at 5pm. 

Other free events are still being added to the day’s programme so don’t miss an opportunity for a family day out in Clonakilty on July 6 from 12pm. Follow the festival on Facebook for more photos and info but below is just a taste of what to expect. 

Photos by Richie Tyndall

Mary O'Brien

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