FOLLOWING the disappointment of last year’s cancellation, Ledbury’s October Fair — or Mop Fair — is set to return.

The traditional event, which is brought to town by the Rogers family, will be held on Monday and Tuesday, October 11-12. 

Evidence of the fair goes all the way back to 1138 in the reign of King Stephen. More recently, it was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I, in 1584.

In the old days, it would have served as a hiring fair, to serve local farms, as well as a celebration of the end of the hop harvest.

This dual function has led to controversy over its correct name. In 2014 we reported on a dispute over whether it should correctly be called the Hop Fair, not the Mop Fair.

The town’s then mayor, Cllr Bob Barnes, sought to put an end to the disagreement by saying both names made historical sense. "It is a Mop Fair, the same as in Tewkesbury. It has also been called the Hop Fair, because of the hop picking. Is it a fair with several names? I think so. Whatever it is called, come and have a good time."

In more recent times, it has been a popular street fair with rides such as waltzers and other attractions for all the family. 

However, speaking to the Ledbury Reporter in the same year, Ann Rogers of the Rogers Fun Fair Family recalled what else the fair had been, within living memory.

She said: "Everything changes, not always for the better; but there will always be a Ledbury street fair. In the old days, Bye Street wasn't part of the fair, but it was where the "run-outs" set up stalls — traders from outside the area.

"You could see a man throwing china up in the air and catching it. It was a skill — and in my younger days, I have actually seen that down Bye Street, and it is a shame it doesn't come back, because it was very exciting for the children.”

In another interview in this newspaper in 2006, the late Pip Powell, well-remembered for his bicycle shop in the Homend, recalled how the event also used to feature a boxing ring in the High Street, and trade stalls selling household goods, particularly crockery, in the Homend.

This year’s fair will be opened by town Mayor Andrew Manns with proceeds going to his chosen charities.