This Page is dedicated to all the sponsors and supporters who help to create these events. Thank you.
Below are some of the names of the people and companies who have generously given sponsorship or their time to make it happen.
Organisers of Didcot Events for 2019
Sponsors For 2019
Didcot Food Festival
Didcot Rotary Club
Didcot Civic Hall
With our Thanks for Sponsors For 2018
Didcot Food Festival
Rotary Club of Didcot
Didcot Town Council
Didcot Civic Hall
Didcot Christmas Street Fair
Meet the driving force behind the street fair
Behind every successful event there is normally a driving force, a person who conceives, organises, and works tirelessly with their team to make something special happen. Twenty two years ago, Jeanette Howse had a vision of a Christmas event that would wow the people of Didcot, raise money for local charities and provide extra income for local shops and businesses. Pick went along to meet the woman who makes Didcot Street Fair happen to find out what it takes to put on the event.
Where did the idea for a street fair first come from?
I had seen Wallingford's Christmas event and I’d been to a carol evening that Didcot Chamber of Commerce had put on and I just thought it was well attended and I asked myself why didn’t they do more, why didn’t they open the shops late, why didn’t they hold a Christmas event like other towns had started? So it must have been the early part of 1994 when I first suggested an event. They all thought we couldn’t do it, but I was thinking big, so I wasn’t just saying let the shops open and have a shopping evening, which they had told me they had tried before and it didn’t work. I was let's make it an event, close the road to traffic, have the shops open late but let's have a funfair and some entertainments as well.
We started organising the first one very late considering it is now a year-
We had no funfair and I had no idea where to get one from. I had no experience of using a funfair at an event either. But Ian Paveley, who had a balloon shop in the Lower Broadway, had met Terry Darby of Flyte Entertainments at an event he was at and Terry used to do Wallingford's annual street fair, so we met with him and I thought, well if this guy thinks we can and provide all the funfair let's do it.
How big was the first street fair?
The first road closure was only from Edinburgh Drive to Haydon road and of course Station Road at that time was still open and led to the station! So it wasn’t very big. In fact I closed the road on the first day myself! I got this call on the radio to say we’ve got nobody to close the road and I said well, where is the police? They said you are doing it was the reply. We hadn’t planned for this so we took a moment to think about how you actually close a road! It's not like that now.
Why did you choose Victorian as the first theme?
We had no theme to begin with, but one did evolve because the mayor, who was Richard Swainston, said well we’ve got to wear something what shall we wear? He then said why don’t we wear Victorian clothes then? So the first theme ended up as Victorian by mistake really. Then we decided that instead of doing Victorian every year, we’d have a different theme each time.
So how is the street fair funded?
We don’t take any money on the day so it has to be made in advance from sponsorship hiring the sales and funfair spaces and I have to balance the budget all year. So when somebody wants to spend something or when somebody has a good idea we have to make sure we have got the money for that. We allocate budgets out, roughly, for marketing, entertainment, the hire of stalls etc and run other events to pay for it such as the Gift & Craft fair and the monthly Saturday markets in the Orchard Centre. If we don’t make the money, we can’t spend it. That has always been my rules.
The street fair has attracted some celebrities over the years too. Which ones have been at the fair?
Timmy Mallett, Bob Harris and Jan Meek a lady who sailed around the world have all appeared at the street fair. Jan brought her boat as well. Christopher Awdry, who writes the Thomas the Tank Engine books has also attended. We’ve had two great great grandsons as well; Jim Nobel who is Brunel's great grandson and Gerald Dickens who is Charles Dickens great grandson .
The street fair seems to pop up from nowhere. What is the process of putting it together on the actual day?
A lot of planning has gone in before of course. Obviously once you have done it, it gets easier year on year because you know what works in what places. So along with Terry who sorts all the entertainment I will physically walk the Broadway with him and agree what is going where. So that on the day he looks after the funfair and the rides and I look after all the stalls. We have 60 to 70 stalls every year of local clubs, groups and schools as well as local crafts. There are also a large range of charity stalls. We always try to keep it local and if they are a national company then we try and have the local volunteers there. The road is open whilst setting up so it all has to be coned off and done safely. Every element has to have a risk assessment done for the public liability insurance. Which isn’t so bad these days as we have done that for several years now. The stalls now come from Canvey Island. They arrive on the day and at 9am we put the stalls up, put the covers on and I walk down the street with them putting the names on the stalls. I make sure they all go where Terry and I have agreed and then behind us come an electrical team putting all the lights on. Of course we have to agree in advance where all the electrics are coming from as well.
So after it is all over, when does planning for the next year start?
I tend to try and have January without thinking about it, but that’s probably not totally true because we also have a party just to thank everybody that’s been involved. We have a basic review then as well because everybody wants to talk about it, so we may as well go through what worked what didn’t work what shall we change what did we like etc.. And then in February and March we start having the meetings, choosing a theme first. The planning always starts with the theme. We also discuss how we are going to raise the money to pay for it. This year we have had some changes as we have incorporated some new events such as Fireworks and a Food Festival and have had new logos done for each. So more work in the early part of the year this time to sort the teams out and discuss the new events.
The small team are all volunteers and are dedicated to putting on some amazing events for the people of Didcot.
I hear you were given an Honour last year
Yes the Street Fair team nominated me for an honour for the organisation of the street fair which was amazing. I collected my British Empire Medal(BEM) from The Duke of Gloucester last June and I am delighted that Didcot Street Fair received such recognition.
I look forward to seeing the people of Didcot enjoying our events this year