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Stotfold Steam and Country Fair – Diary of an Event Volunteer

Well that was a weekend that was !  Another fantastic couple of days of live music and all the fun and thrills of the events and engines at the Steam Fair.  There’s a dedicated band of volunteers who pull together to make this event such a spectacular.  Here’s just one of the many stories that tell the tale of the Stotfold Steam and Country Fair:

A bit about me

Hi, I’m Tim and this was my first time volunteering at the Mill’s May Steam Fair.  I decided to jump into the deep end, signing up for all 3 days of setting up, ticket office duties on Sunday and taking down on the following Monday!

Wednesday

We are greeted by cold temperatures and grey skies as the volunteer teams meet at Stotfold Mill at 10am. It is a little daunting to think that in just 3 days a green field will be transformed into the hustling bustling scene of action familiar to the many thousands of fairgoers over the years. Worryingly, the weather forecast for the weekend is less than promising but maybe we can throw in a Sundance along the way. Today’s group is a small but enthusiastic bunch. Some newbies like me and others who have been helping for years. Armed with a tractor plus trailer and a Pick up van we set about our tasks including netting off the river boundaries, creating the main arena, putting up signs, moving chairs and putting up tents. Heavy rain at 12.30 forces an early lunch! The afternoon brings more tasks but slowly things start to take shape. We finish at 4pm with dark clouds still overhead but we are pleased with the day’s work…

Thursday

We arrive to better weather and brighter skies. A few different faces in the team today but still lots of laughs amongst the hard work. More setting out to be done, tents and marquees to be put up. All around us, steam machinery, scaffolding and caravans are arriving. The field is now beginning to look like a showground and the countdown has really begun. Most importantly the beer tent is up, although not yet open for business so a pint of “Stotfold Steamer” will have to wait

Friday

Blue skies on one side and grey clouds on the other. Some heat in the air too. We are grateful for small mercies! Our major task for the day is transporting and putting up the ticket kiosks Others are busy preparing the car parking areas. Still so much to do. We finish mid-afternoon. “Music at The Mill” is on tonight and I offer up a silent request for the Weather Gods to treat us kindly over the weekend

Sunday

My next volunteering day. Weather-wise Saturday had been “sunshine and showers” but this morning Stotfold is bathed in blue skies and glorious sunshine! I arrive at The Mill at 9.30 to join lots of relieved and smiling faces as the event organisers hope for a bumper day. I am on duty in the Mill Lane Ticket Office from 10am to 1.15 taking card payments and sure enough we have a steady stream of happy families making the most of the sunshine. My stint passes by in a flash. Everyone I deal with is unfailingly polite and cheery. Anyone over 60 is especially happy at only having to pay £5 to get in! Afterwards I head to the staff tent for a coffee and a (perfectly-cooked) bacon sandwich. This is another “behind the scenes” hive of activity. I spend a couple of hours taking in some of the show attractions including a pint of beer and a delicious “Box of Cakes” flapjack. I have a chat with the ever-popular Joanne from Stotfold News, before I head to the Nature Reserve tent and have a number of good conversations with potential new volunteers. As the day winds down, it is great to see so many happy people and hear the great comments about the show. Nice to think that I have played a very small part in making it happen.

Monday

It’s all over for another year. Apart that is, from taking everything down and packing it all away! A full day ahead. We plough through undoing all our work from Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. By 3pm we are largely done and we stop to enjoy a well-earned beer and a cake. By 5pm everything is really finished and the showground has become a green field once more!

And finally….

I have really enjoyed my stint of volunteering at The Fair this year. For sure it has been hard work but it has been even more rewarding. I am still amazed to think what has been achieved and grateful that I still have all my fingers. I have made some good friends and shared lots of laughs along the way. I am very proud to live in a town that has a wonderful community asset like Stotfold Mill and the Nature Reserve, which is run entirely by volunteers. I am delighted to give a bit of my time to ensure it remains an asset and a treasure for many years to come. I hope you feel the same way and might join us in the future! As the slogan says “Run by the community for the community “and to quote another slogan “Every Little Helps”.

Tim Boughen – May 2019

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