One knows it is September in Oxford when the annual bustle and hustle of the St. Giles Fair disrupts the north side of the city. The Fair is celebrated on the first few days of the week after the feast of St. Giles (September 1) and has been since the eighteenth century. It began as an enormous temporary market around 1780, became a massive menagerie and freak show in the 1800s, and is now a noisy electric carnival. Apparently at one time the fair boasted a menagerie of 500 animals, a waxworks, a lion tamer, boxers, an evangelistic tent, and “The Beauty of Adelaide,” an exhibit of an enormous woman.
The fair has changed a lot. It is still garish, noisy, and extremely crowded. But the freak shows have disappeared and the fair is mostly noisy carnival rides, game-and-prize trucks, and food stands. (Including “The Best of America” stand, which features hamburgers and hotdogs.) We brought the girls last year, early before it was crowded, for a little family fun. Then I wrangled the children and an enormous Dora balloon home on the bus and Alex returned to the library.
We went again this year, early to beat the crowds, and saw many an amazing and exciting sight, such as this gigantic banana, which made Harriet hungry.
To all of our delight, the tiny double-decker buses were there again. Norah has waited a year for another ride on this wonder and this year Harriet was able to join her. The buses move in circles slowly enough for even Mommy’s taste and much fun was had by all.
All aboard for Oxford! “Bussss!” says Harriet.
This year Daddy got to enjoy the ladybirds.
And yes, we did. We had to.