AS PART of a tradition stretching back more than 400 years to the age of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I, Ledbury’s October Fair returned to the town centre on Monday and Tuesday.

Once the fair was a hiring event and a place where household wares could be bought before the winter.

Now the High Street, the Homend, Bye Street and Bye Street car park are given over to the Rogers Fun Fair, bringing sound, colour and lights to what are those dark autumn evenings, when the weather is often sombre.

This year was no exception but crowds still turned out for the opening of the fair on Monday evening, as town crier Bill Turberfield led out the Mayor of Ledbury, Coun Phill Bettington, and other civic dignitaries to the waltzers and the cutting of the ribbon.

The black clouds threatened heavy rain, but only a light drizzle fell.

Ann Rogers, of the fun fair, had a surprise for both Coun Bettington and former town mayor, Keith Francis, by presenting them with certificates which made them honorary members of the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Rogers said: “They have both been very supportive and we hold them both in high esteem.”

Now the two councillors have the right to attend Showman’s Guild meetings and luncheons.

Coun Bettington said: “I feel very honoured. I have always got on well with the Rogers family.”

Mrs Rogers said she was satisfied with the turnout, with an estimated 1,000 people coming to the streets on Monday evening, despite the slow start.

The October Fair makes about £2,000 a year in fees for the town council, with the money being divided up among local charities and good causes.