For me, Ruby The Singing Dog stole the show!
That said, for those of us living down wind of the Football Field, the pervading aroma of the hog roast came a close second. Of course, thanks to the Committee and all who helped, those who attended were the real winners.
Fairly fine: After rain stopped play even before it started in 2018, the iffy weather forecast this year turned out to be mostly wrong, and the South Leigh 2019 Fayre was a resounding success, albeit under heavy skies. Cars packed the manicured parking field that was ably manned by the Air Cadets.
Planning started about five minutes after last year's Fayre was cancelled. But as 2019 progressed the Committee pulled together a terrific programme of exhibitors, performers, stalls, and things to win, eat and drink.
Nearer to the day itself, bunting started to sprout along the Station Road hedges, and Martin Collett was seen cutting Richard Law's three-acre car park field in 32 degrees with his 18-inch, hand pushed, mower. Happily, a neighbour's 42-inch John Deere sit-on came to the rescue.
Marquees at dawn: Soon after sunrise on the 27th, the marquee pitching squad was on parade under the able leadership of Ray and Margaret and, early on the 28th, stall holders and exhibitors transformed the Field into a proper Summer Fayre show-ground while martial artists limbered up. Families were attracted from far and wide by the ambrosial hog roast vapours. One couple arrived over an hour early. "We come every year" they said, "how come it’s not started yet?" I showed them the large banner that said, 'From 12-4pm'. Undeterred, they pressed on to the BBQ tent and I saw them leave at about 4:30pm happily loaded with Tombola prizes.
Just after High Noon, the arena show kicked off with the beaded 'bedlah' of Witney’s much-loved Hazzas Belly Dancers shimmering in the sporadic sun. Their glittering galabeyas, choli tops, and harmonious harem pants complemented iridescent chiffon 'wings' to the delight of South Leigh's belly dance aficionados.
The A40 - Return to Sender: Then we learned that Elvis, in the form of Karl E.A. Presley, was stuck on the A40. We feared that he might be lonesome without us but he was always on our minds and, just as we felt that it would be now or never, the Hound Dog grabbed the mic and got the Graceland crowd all shook up.
Jeff Denton then followed with his medley of just about every singer’s hits I could recall. Neil Diamond found Sweet Caroline in the crowd and shared her chair for his personal serenade. The assembled throng joined Hands, touching hands; Reaching out, touching you, touching me… How come everyone knows the words? Certainly, Good times never seemed so good 'cause I’m a believer, Yes I’m a believer'!
Canine chorister didn’t disappoint. Now it was Family Dog Show time! A pack of furry friends led their servants around the Crufts-like arena to the joy of the canine connoisseurs of Sowlye.
There were seven categories and some 25 dogged competitors. It was a barking success, but the highlight for me was 'Best Trick'.
There were two entrants. The first was given her cue only to remain motionless until Judge Anna started to turn away. At that moment, Bella performed perfectly to the cheers of the crowd. Now it was time for The Singing Dog.
Holding the diminutive Ruby, proud owner Laura was handed the microphone and started to sing herself. "What about the performing pooch?", we all thought in the packed terraces. At that instant, the operatic canis lupus familiaris threw back her head and started to howl perfectly in E♭. Both doggy pawformers in the category received worthy First Prize rosettes!
Finally, after excellent showings by all, there was 'The dog I most want to take home' award, which went to Tilly. Much to the relief of the fury champion, she was actually taken home by her owner, Jo!
Goodies galore. There was a host of other attractions including Ed the medieval pole-lathe wooden bowl makers, sellers of everything under the South Leigh fitful sun, Tombola, the annual Raffle, birds of prey, animal petting, roundabouts, and cakes and goodies galore.
For those more interested in Rovers with four wheels, rather than with four legs, the Series One Land Rover rides intended for the kids were mostly used by grownups! And there was a delightful coterie of classic cars and a herd of pedigree agricultural vehicles grazing at the Station end.
A super 1930s' Morris Eight stood next to a 1950s' baby blue Austin 7 A30, and an MG TF '1500' from 1955 reclined alongside a fine pair of Willys Jeeps. In the agricultural row, Fordson, Ferguson and International Harvester tractors glistened and a family of Land Rovers back to 1951 completed the car show. But there were steam engines and still more things to see and do...
A huge 'thank you' from the writer to everyone involved - and I’ll definitely see you at the Fayre next year if not in the pub before then! In the meantime, I have to teach my dogs to play the guitar.
All photos below are reproduced by kind permission and are © Lindsey Willetts
Raffle prize winners were:
Luxury short break holiday
Mason Arms voucher
Eynsham Hall Tea for Two
Just Cartridges clothing
Wine Voucher (Case)
Mercedes Cap & Bag
Zumba with Katie Amiri
Hair Cut - Trilogy
Bottle of wine
Jo Malone gift bag
Milk Tray chocolates
Eve & Tim Lawson
Thank you to everyone who bought raffle tickets or donated a raffle prize. This year we raised £1153 which is a great total. The committee would also like to thank everyone who helped with the fayre with special thanks to Janet Soame who made a lot of delicious cakes and organised the refreshment stall, all other cake makers, those donating to a stall, organised or manned a stall. We really can't do it without you!