Call for sponsors to save Morpeth Fair Day

Morpeth Fair Day is in real danger of not going ahead in 2020 after the Chamber of Trade decided that it could no longer run the event.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 4:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 4:34 pm
Some of the classic cars that took part in the Morpeth Fair Day 2019 parade. Picture by Anne Hopper.

Held each year in June since the 1980s, profits from the attractions and stalls have provided funds for the business group to then be spent on projects to support the local economy – for example, contributions to the Christmas lights and bloom campaigns.

But this was not the case last year as the 2019 event lost its main sponsor at the last minute and the Chamber’s committee has decided not to proceed with Fair Day.

However, John Beynon is working with catering and funfair operators to try to keep it going, as long as sponsorship can be found.

He resigned from the committee following the decision and is now an ordinary member.

“It reluctantly decided it was not worth the effort for such small rewards, but I believe as it's part of the Chamber's and Morpeth's recent history, we should try to carry on,” he said.

“Although I understand a lot of work goes into the event, it should not be seen purely as a financial package because other factors need to be taken into account too – for example, the benchmarking studies we've done have shown that many of the people who visit Morpeth on Fair Day then make return visits to the town.

“And I also believe that if you miss a year, you will never get it back.

“These days it's hard to find a sponsor with £2,000 to £3,000 to spare, and so I believe we should be actively looking for smaller sponsors as the event can go ahead if we get enough of them on board.

“Hopefully, some of the pubs and cafés that do very well on Fair Day will be able to be a smaller sponsor.

“If we can get the required sponsorship, I would still like the Chamber to be involved in some way, such as marshaling on the day.

“We are behind in timescale, so we need some input from potential sponsors and/or helpers as soon as possible.”

Those interested can contact Mr Beynon by email – [email protected]

A spokesman for the Chamber’s committee said: “In recent years, profits have diminished significantly, primarily due to the loss of major sponsorships and hugely escalating costs – for example, road closures and street cleaning – and 2019 saw the event run at a significant financial loss to the Chamber despite securing some smaller sponsorships.

“A number of new options were explored to see if the event could be made more viable but each met with some significant issues. The outsourcing of some elements of Fair Day in 2019 had been partially successful, but further reduced income.

“Even had a viable business model been found, there was still an issue with finding someone to organise a sustainable event for 2020 onwards. Almost as soon as 2019 Fair Day was over, we started looking for someone to take on the organisation of the event, including a plea in the Herald, last June.

“Sadly, no-one stepped forward, either from within Chamber or elsewhere, to take up the challenge and after almost six months of trying to find someone, Chamber reluctantly took the decision not to proceed with Fair Day.

“It is worth noting that organising Fair Day is not simply booking stalls and performers. Other elements include definition of emergency procedures, processes to deal with lost children and vulnerable people, health and safety and risk assessments, public consultations, attaining suitable insurance, provision of a qualified medical team, adequate policing provision, access to Stanners, establishing a park and ride system, installation of portaloos, sufficient number of stewards and communications devices to keep in contact from around the event site, as well as the road closures and street cleaning.

“Many of these tasks require payment ‘upfront’ and, at the end of it all, the success of the event is very dependent upon the weather being suitable on the day.

“Chamber would very much like to see Fair Day continue this year and for the foreseeable future and we will be willing to provide assistance through sharing our experience of Fair Day with any organisation that believes it is able to deliver it.”