'Sorry we are not here for Easter', say funfair organisers

Joe Summer and Jonathan Gray with the new Showmen's Guild posters outside Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich

Pictured from left to right are Joe Summer and Jonathan Gray with the new Showmen's Guild posters outside Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich - Credit: Submitted

The organisers of a popular Norwich funfair are setting their sights on returning to the city in August after two years of frustration caused by the pandemic. 

Jonathan Gray, chief steward of the Norwich and Eastern Counties Section of the Showmen's Guild said social distancing restrictions being eased as part of step four of the government roadmap from June 21 will be key. 

Easter funfair at Chapelfield Gardens. Picture: Antony Kelly

A previous Easter funfair at Chapelfield Gardens - Credit: Archant

But he has expressed frustration over the delay, given the safety procedures in place - such as regularly cleaning the rides and hand sanitiser - and in light of public parks being busy this week as further lockdown restrictions were eased. 

Posters are being put up in Norwich this week by the Showmen's Guild to tell customers they are sorry not to be in operation in Chapelfield Gardens for the Easter Funfair, and that they hope to be back soon.

Last year, the Showmen's Guild calendar was obliterated by the pandemic, expect for one month of operation at Wells-next-the-Sea and a couple of weeks at Dereham.

The Showmen's Guild  also announced in January that the King's Lynn Mart was cancelled this year. 

Mr Gray said: "As it stands, we are missing another year and there is nothing to reschedule. We do not know where we are going at the minute. We are looking at August time for when we are hopefully back.

"It has been really bad for us and it is terrible for our finances to have all the rides packed up and not able to start." 

Non-destructive testing and annual maintenance work is currently taking place for the funfair rides, which would normally have been completed by this time of year in non-Covid times. 

Mr Gray said: "It's been a big loss for us. Easter is a big holiday as the first one that comes around after a long period of waiting. Last Easter was one of the hottest on record, but we won't be there for Good Friday again." 

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Mr Gray, who is the third generation of his family to work in the business, said many of the showmen live on Hooper Lane. 

"The Norwich fair is a big part of our year," Mr Gray said. "We live in Norwich, it's our local city so it's like home from home for us."

The event is a charted fair, which has previously been located at Gentleman's Walk, Chapelfield Gardens and Eaton Park.