Sunny Bank Holiday May Fayre Lights Up Henley

All the fun of the fair brought huge crowds out to the Henley May Fayre in Market Place yesterday in the Bank Holiday sunshine.

The Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton officially opened the event with the help from Iris Helfner, aged 6 from Fairport, Rochester in the US who was visiting friends in Henley including Mayor elect Glen Lambert.  Iris, described by her father Karl has a “miracle child” who had a critical heart defect.  She survived after her heart stopped beating for 90 mins after having surgery for a new ‘robotic’ heart.  She went on to have further complications including two strokes and a lung collapse.  After 73 days and 7 surgeries she walked out of the hospital with no adverse affects.   Glen said, ” I read about Iris on her Dad’s blog and sent her Jim Donahue’s Portrait of Henley Book with a message from Kellie inside and and Karl is now taking Iris to some of the places she received well wishes from.”

Kicking off the afternoon was May pole dancing by children from Steph Maxwell’s Divas & Dudes Dance Academy.  Angie Best then had the very difficult decision of who to crown the May Fayre King and Queen and with a little help from the audience but afterwards she still couldn’t decided between two so she crowned them both!  Winners were George Nearn-Stuart (dressed as Barnum from the Greatest Showman) Ethan Procter (a 50s Gangster) Camilla Birkett (aged just 6 months as Tinkerbell) and ‘Cheerleader’ Gigi Nearn-Stuart. The crowns were donated by Floral Circus and the prizes by the Kenton Theatre.

The RNLI, British Legion, Friends of Trinity School, Henley in Transition, Bishopswood School, the WI and Kenton Theatre all had stalls.  The RNLI had their legendary popular soft toy tombola, Friends of Trinity School were selling magnetic slime and fake snow to raise money for their new Science Lab, the WI were selling cakes and biscuits and the Kenton Theatre had a pick a straw game with some fantastic Kenton Theatre prizes.  Clive Hemsley, Henley’s dog portrait artist had a stand showing some of his gorgeous portraits including his own dog Kippy.

Once again members of the Henley Air Training Corps ran the coconut shy, strongman striker and the buzz wire which saw wonderful concentration on everyone’s faces.  Henley firefighters brought their fire engine for children to climb aboard and Owen’s animals brought their creepy crawlies and snakes for people to hold.

During the afternoon Henley’s Got Talent winners, Lucy Porda (senior) and brother and sister act, Felix and Didi Richardson (junior), Katie Moberly Rupert House Choir and The Voice semi-finalist Jamie Bruce performed on the stage. Didi said afterwards: “I thought it was great fun and I’d like to do it next year too.” Felix said “It was brilliant so many people came to support us. At school today my friends said they really enjoyed it. My favourite bit was the crowd shouting during Seven Nation Army.”

Four teams entered the Tug of War competition with the The Argyll pub team hoping to retain the title but were beaten in the final by The Rowbarge pub who they beat last year.  The Tweed Pullers (a group of Matt Richardson’s friends who love to wear Tweed) came third after a closely fought play off against the Saracen’s Head pub team.  Joe Miller, Landlord at The Rowbarge pub said afterwards, “We were hard done by last year and we knew we were going to win this year.  I think the five pints we all had beforehand helped us win and we’ll be back next year to retain the title.”  The Rowbarge sponsored a new trophy for the competition and Brakspear donated a £50 bar tab for the winners to celebrate their win.

Sarah Miller who organised the Fayre said, “I was delighted with the whole May Fayre, it was just how I remembered the event many years ago when it took place in the Market Square. The May Pole dancing was really lovely and I must thank Anne Garrison who owns the May Pole and Steph’s Divas and Dudes for performing the dance.  It was a perfect start to a wonderful sunny day. And we had the most amazing talent on stage, including Felix & Didi who won Henley’s Got Talent, the beautiful Katie Moberly and Lucy Porda.  Rupert House Choir were delightful and our own Jamie Bruce had us all dancing around our handbags in the Square.”

“A May Fayre isn’t a May Fayre without the Morris Dancers, and the Ellington Morris Dancers brought bells, music and colour to the event.  It was such fun. The fancy dress competition was lovely and proved to be tough to judge for Angie Best, but she made the right choices. But I think the Tug of War was my favourite – it really got everybody going and we had quite a few people watching their teams.  I’m glad the Rowbarge won, need I say more!! All in all a great community event.  And one which I hope the retailers benefited from as well, as this was one of the main reasons I set out to bring it back into the Town Centre.

“Huge thanks to everybody who helped make the event happen, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the various individuals and community groups to make the May Fayre a day to remember for everybody. I must say my feet still hurt, and my nose has become a beacon of redness, but it was worth the pain!  It was a brilliant day. I’m already planning next year – hope to see you all then!”