The decision has been taken to cancel this year’s Goose Fair due to ongoing concerns and uncertainty around Covid.
Nottingham City Council, which owns the Forest Recreation Ground – currently the site of a vaccination centre – and where the fair takes place every October, has reluctantly come to its decision in consultation with the Showmen’s Guild.
This is based on a range of issues, including Covid infection rates remaining high, national guidance and advice from experts in public health and event planning.
City Council Leader, Councillor David Mellen, said: “The cancellation of Goose Fair for a second year running during the current Covid pandemic has been a very difficult decision to make. The event is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages every year and is an important part of Nottingham’s cultural calendar.
“We know this will be disappointing for very many people but we think it’s the safest thing to do. Residents’ health and public safety have to come first.
“In line with advice received from the Safety Advisory Group for Events and national guidance, we had looked at other options in discussion with the Guild, including measures to control attendance, but these weren’t agreed as feasible due to the nature and traditional of the event and the site.
“There are around 100,000 visitors each day to Goose Fair and in a city with high Covid cases and lower rates of vaccination at the current time, we have to base decisions on public safety. There have been numerous factors involved and we have also been mindful that Government advice could change at any point.”
While other large events such as football matches and festivals are beginning to take place, Goose Fair is different because it traditionally attracts around half a million people over five days, constantly moving on, off and around the large but restrictive site rather than being seated.
The council took all these factors into consideration when reaching its decision, along with guidance from the Safety Advisory Group for Events and Public Health, Covid infection rates currently being high and vaccination uptake remaining low in the city, with the potential for a further wave in the autumn after the end of the summer holidays.
Uncertainty remains over whether the Government will introduce the need for vaccine passports for large events such as Goose Fair, but it is important for the event operators and council that a decision is taken now. If cases continue to rise, there is a chance events could still be cancelled at short notice, and there is currently no event insurance or compensation scheme available.
Cllr Mellen added: “A decision needed to be taken now rather than run the risk of having to cancel closer to the event when further significant time, effort and money would have been spent in preparation by the council and the showmen.
“We all recognise the impact of losing a major event like this on Nottingham and the wider area in an economic sense to local businesses.”