Wychwood Forest Fair to go ahead on 22 August at Foxburrow Wood
The annual Wychwood Forest Fair will go ahead this year on Sunday 22 August at Foxburrow Wood, Witney.
Celebrating West Oxfordshire’s rural traditions, conservation work and heritage, the Fair highlights rural activities and arts and crafts while raising money for conservation charity the Wychwood Forest Trust, formerly known as the Wychwood Project. This year’s family-friendly event will include pony rides, falconry, ferret racing, rural crafts displays and arts and crafts, along with a bar and live music area.
“Foxburrow Wood, the Fair’s venue this year, was purchased and transformed from an agricultural field into a thriving nature reserve using proceeds from previous Forest Fairs,” recalls Miranda, Communications and Events Manager at the Wychwood Forest Trust. “So it’s a really big event for us. We’re absolutely thrilled to be planning for it again after missing last year and have been grateful for the enthusiastic response we have received so far.”
Same charity, new name
In July 2021, a decade after merging with the Friends of Wychwood to form an independent charity, the Wychwood Project changed its name to the Wychwood Forest Trust. Developing a new website in-house and working with local designers GD Associates to update their logo for an extremely charitable rate, the charity hopes their change of name marks a positive new phase for nature conservation in the historic Wychwood area.
“Projects must come to an end, but the need to preserve our traditions and restore our habitats will certainly outlive us,” explains Miranda. “We believe our new name will help us champion the historic Wychwood area’s unique heritage and protect its habitats for generations to come. We remain the same charity with the same ethos and goals, rooted in the same beliefs and history. And the Forest Fair is part of that history.”
A historic Fair
Founded in 1796 by three Methodists living in Finstock, the Wychwood Forest Fair has a long history.
Intended as a calmer counterpart to the annual Witney Feast, as the Fair grew in reputation and scale it transformed into a raucous event, aided by a legal quirk meaning it operated outside parish jurisdiction.
Following a spate of rowdy incidents in the 1830s, the Fair was condemned and prohibited. And once the1853 Parliamentary Act of Disafforestation placed the historic Wychwood Forest under private ownership, the Fair was banned for good.
The Wychwood Forest Trust revived the Forest Fair in 2000 to celebrate the rural traditions, arts and crafts, and conservation work taking place in the area historically part of the Wycwhood Forest—120 square miles of today’s West Oxfordshire. The modern fair is a peaceful, family-friendly event that looks back to its 18th-century origins.