They all came out in force. The sun, the crowds, the children, the dogs.....and even the cuckoos for Heathfield’s famous Heffle Cuckoo Fair.
Drummers, musicians, dancers, heritage cyclists and children from All Saints’ and St Richard’s Primary School, Old Heathfield, lined up outside Heathfield Community College and processed to the Cade Street Recreation Ground where the Fair has been held for 700 years.
When they arrived, Dame Heffle climbed the rostrum and released two ‘cuckoos’ denoting the arrival of spring in the town.
Then the fun started. There were more stalls and more entertainment than ever before.
Elegant ladies from Morris group Cherry Clack, wearing white dresses and carrying flower garlands, danced for the hundreds of people who descended on the Fair. The eerie Pentacle Drummers raised the hairs on the back of people’s necks and the Heathfield Silver Band’s rendition of Sussex by the Sea as they marched, drew followers in Pied Piper fashion.
Dogs of all vintages and breeds strutted their stuff in the family dog show and talented dancers from the AB Stage School in Heathfield High Street delighted the audience with their expertise.
Perhaps the most moving element of the show is the performance of the Heffle Cuckoo Fair Song by children from All Saints’ and St Richard’s School. Their first song went down so well they were asked to perform another.
Pat Clark, deputy parish council chair, introduced the Fair by telling everyone it was the 700th time it had been held and congratulated everyone on the support they had given.
Summer Solstice Morris brought traditionalism to the day with their historic routines and the winners of the scarecrow competition were announced.
There were also vintage cars, food and drink, dozens of stalls selling everything from jewellery to plants, mind-blowing demonstrations by Marco the Magician and a thrilling falconry show.
Local First Responders gave useful demonstrations of resuscitation and members of Heathfield Rotary Club acted tirelessly as marshals. The whole event was held in aid of Demelza Hospice Care for Children.
A spokeswoman said: “We have not yet made the final count but in view of the enormous success of the day, we imagine the total will be in the region of about £8,000 for the charity. Thank you to all who took part.”