One of the most famous fairs in the country, if not the most famous, Widecombe Fair is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life time but the chances are you will want to keep coming back again and again to sample the unique experience of a fair that is very much out of the ordinary.
Widecombe can be found in the mysterious expanse of Dartmoor and comes alive at the beginning of every September with the ancient fair that is spoken about in many books, songs and folklore.
“Tom Pearse, Tom Pearse, lend me your grey mare”
Everyone is familiar with the song 'Old Uncle Tom Cobley And All' and the song actually describes Uncle Tom and his mates who borrowed an old grey mare to take to the fair but the experience ended tragically. Uncle Tom Cobley's grave can be found just north of Widecombe at a village called Spreyton. The fair has been a regular event since 1933 and it is possible to see many of the old Widecombe Fair games and stalls still on display.
When following the signs to Widecombe through the rugged Dartmoor countryside you first become aware of the small village tucked away at the bottom of a steep hill.
What takes many people by surprise as they travel through Dartmoor towards Widecombe are the Dartmoor ponies, ponies that are completely wild and many of them make their way down to Widecombe and mingle with the visitors to the fair.
Where else would you experience anything like that, this is one of the many factors that make Widecombe fair so unique.
A fair bit of history
Widecombe have a committee that organises the fair every year and there are records dating back to 1900 which mention the festivities that come to the village every year.
There is lots of singing and dancing throughout the day along with traditional food stalls offering everything from cream teas to the local speciality, a ram roast. The Widecombe fair is something that the locals plan all year round and you can really appreciate the effort that has been put into it as it does not run like clockwork by coincidence.
Whilst you are enjoying the day I always recommend that you take a little time to look around the local church, it is more or less right next to the field that the fair is held on and by taking some quiet time in the church you will simply drift back and realise what life must have been like over a hundred years ago in this remote part of Dartmoor.
When the festivities are over I would advise a stroll over to the local pub of Widdecombe, the Rugglestone Inn, a pub that dates back to the last century and who serve some delicious meals that many people are happy to travel over the moors to relish.
If you are holidaying in nearby Torbay or anywhere else for that matter, you should put the date in your diary to visit somewhere that you will never forget, the village of Widecombe the Moor.