Recreation Ground, Church Lane, Balsham
With the uncertainty of Covid-19, the committee have now postponed the Balsham Feast to 2nd July 2022.
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The Balsham Feast, a biennial event, is a village event bringing the community together with plenty of fun activities for all ages. Many of the village’s groups come together to run some of the activities.
The Feast opens at 1pm on the recreation ground with village stalls, dog shows, classic car show, donkey rides, raptor display, model steam train display and fun activities for all ages.
Refreshments are available from the café. Evening entertainment with live music is provided. All activities are provided free of charge.
History of the Balsham Feast
In 1245, the Bishop of Ely was granted (we assume by Royal Decree) a village market that was to be held in Balsham each Monday, plus an annual three day fair to be held at the Holy Trinity Church. It is very likely that the three day fair was the pre-runner of what we now know as the Balsham Feast, traditionally held during the first week of July.
In the early 1900’s, the fair, spread over three days, was held in the Black Bull yard, spilling out into the street with travelling showmen, rides and stalls. There were also children’s sports, old folk’s teas and cricket matches. The school log book from 1900 to 1927 records that the school was closed for a three day holiday in July celebrating the fair.
After the Second World War, it seems that the fair was reduced from a three day event to a one day event, with travelling fairground rides and stalls held in the Bell Meadow. A photo from 1946 shows an event being held on the old cricket ground (now the Meadow School) with a Flower and Vegetable Show taking centre stage, plus fancy dress and all the fun of the fair. It continued in this form until Mr May sold the field in the late 1960’s for the building of the School.
When the recreation ground came into being, a committee was formed to raise funds to build the sports pavilion and various fundraising events were organised, including a summer Carnival Week. This was run annually for several years and proved to be very successful. It included a Saturday parade of lorry, tractor, trailer and bicycle floats, decorated by village organisations, ending up on the recreation ground where the fair was held. By the 1990’s the carnival was discontinued, perhaps because of a lack of volunteers.
There were still major annual events held for the village. The 1st Balsham Scouts held a one day village Fun Day in July on the recreation ground for three years, with village groups participating. The Meadow School held an annual Spring fundraising event called May Revels until a series of washouts forced it to change to June. The Horticultural Society, now the Gardening Club, held an annual village show for many years. Since its inception, and in Feast years, this is now held as a “Have a go Show” in the marquee on the recreation ground.
It wasn’t until the year 2000, that the Balsham Ploughmen decided to revive the traditional village Feast. It was only meant to be a one off to celebrate the Millennium but proved so successful that it ran again and again. After three Feasts, the Ploughmen decided to make it a larger biennial event in even years. In 2015, in preparation for the 2016 Feast, the Ploughmen decided to hand over its organisation to an independent village committee.
Images from 2018 Balsham Feast:
Images of Feast Gone by: