Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre hailed a success despite 'challenges'
Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre has been hailed as a success after around 130,000 people attended over the four day event last week (November 21-24).
The town’s largest annual event once again attracted stall traders and visitors from all over the country, with some describing it as among the best they have seen.
“The event, this year appeared to very well organised and managed by West Suffolk Council,” said Mark Cordell, chief executive of the town’s business improvement district.
“From my own observations and feedback it is apparent that the event has benefited visiting stall holders, town centre businesses and the provisions and farmers market, which is a great outcome when some people have concerns that the event doesn’t benefit local businesses.”
Stallholder Hilary Adanali said: “I have really liked the atmosphere and the music coming from the stand has been great.
“I’ve come from Bath, so a long way. I heard about it from speaking to other stallholders, they said it was really good. Its fame has spread!
“It is said to be one of the top two or three in the country.”
West Suffolk Council has acknowledged ‘challenges’ with transportation, with Saturday said to have been the busiest ever for car parking. Traffic leaving Bury was also affected on Saturday and Sunday evenings by the A14 being closed westbound to Newmarket.
The council said this was ‘without consultation’, however, Highways England responded to say they had informed all local authorities on the previous Monday. The agency said they were only informed of the fayre on the Friday evening and then worked to move the start time back from 8pm to 9.30pm.
Police also said an elderly woman was hit by a car and was taken to hospital, but was not badly hurt.
Paul Hopfensperger, deputy mayor for Bury St Edmunds, said the size of the crowds were enough for the council to consider extending the length of the event.
“The entire format of the fayre has to change as it really not a pleasurable or safe environment for anyone to be able to enjoy it.
“Having visited Christmas fayres all over Europe, I have never seen one crammed into four days. They are all spread out over a month.”
West Suffolk Council had prepared for the event by installing park and ride services, while Greater Anglia put on extra trains to Ipswich.
A spokesman for the council said it would take steps to improve.
“It has been a busy few days and we would like to thank our partners including Suffolk Police, all of our stewards, and all of the community groups, organisations and businesses that have helped.
“We are gathering the footfall data but broadly we believe the fayre continued to attract a steady audience of around 130,000 people over the four days. That of course does represent challenges and all of our car parks including the temporary Park and Ride and the car parks at other locations including Greene King and West Suffolk College were extremely busy, while people also walked or made use of public transport to get to the fayre.
“Naturally, as it does every year, the Council will now want to review and evaluate the positive and negative impacts of the fayre on the local community and businesses.”
For more images, see this Friday's Bury Free Press