1972 – A Future For The Fair – Part 1

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During the last four years “The Fair Magazine” has covered many aspects of history of the Fair. This Year we change the emphasis and ask Bo’ness Academy 6th Formers James Braes and Lindsay Easton, who have brought great honour to the town by winning the English Speaking Union Public Speaking Competition, for which they received the Balfour Trophy, to give the younger generations’ views on……

A FUTURE FOR THE FAIR part 1

My family has long had links with the Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival, since for over sixty years, our family joiners business was responsible for the erection of the platform upon which the crowning ceremony takes place. Each year, the various bits and pieces of this platform were taken out of hibernation in our timber racks, and were patched up, touched up, and at regular intervals, completely repainted. And then, of course, the whole thing was assembled.

On the Fair day, the youngest apprentice was accorded the honour of raising the royal standard. After the procession left the Glebe Park, the platform was dismantled and returned to our yard just in time for lunch, the traditional steak pie, which was shared between family, workers, and the driver of the lorry which had to be hired for transportation.

And it was this annual jamboree which shaped my attitude to the Fair. All my memories of this institution since early childhood have been happy, and so I am all for the Fair.

I am happy, but I am only one out of many. What of the others ?

The very young children are happy; they love dressing up, marching in the procession, and going to the ‘shows’.

The more elderly members of the community are happy. They enjoy seeing the young in procession, and each Fair revives memories of previous Fairs.

Exiled Bo’nessians are obviously happy, for hundreds, perhaps thousands, make an annual pilgrimage to view the free spectacle.

From all outward appearances, it would seem that the greater part of the community is happy with the Fair as it is, and as it is evolving. One has only to be present in the Burgh on the Fair day to see the crowds of people, the yards of bunting, the decorated floats, and the arches, which represent hours of toil by the good citizens of Bo’ness, and often a great deal of money too.

Thus, it would seem that at present, the bulk of the community is satisfied with the Fair, and all enter into the Fair spirit.

But with an eye to the future, it is the rising generation which must be happy, and willing to participate in Fairs to come. The teenagers of today must have an interest in the Fair if it is to survive into the next generation.

The contingent from Bo’ness Academy in the Fair procession can be counted on one’s fingers, which would seem to suggest that today’s youth has no interest in the Fair. But the truth is that they feel that this particular part of the proceedings should be left to the pupils of the primary schools, and think it beneath their dignity to parade round the streets.

The teenagers can, however, be seen in their hundreds at such events as the soap box derby, the piano smashing, and various dances. They are to be found behind the scenes in all aspects of the Fair, building arches, decorating house fronts, and even bathing small siblings on the Fair E’en.

In short, the youth of modern Bo’ness enters into the Fair spirit with the same enthusiasm as generations past, and I can assure all my elders and betters that the future of the Fair is indeed safe in our hands.

JAMES R. N. BRAES

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