Goosey the Goose Fair goose has flown into Old Market Square – and is urging people to come along to say hello!
The eight-foot figure is the emblem of Nottingham’s famous annual event, which had to be cancelled last month because of Covid-related social-distancing restrictions.
She usually announces that Nottingham’s longest-running and most popular event is under way by taking pride of place on what’s known locally as Goose Fair Roundabout in Mansfield Road, close to the Goose Fair site on The Forest Recreation Ground.
It would have been the 729th Goose Fair and is only the ninth time in history it has been called off, including in 1646 due to the Bubonic Plague and during the First and Second World Wars.
However, Goosey didn’t want 2020 to pass without at least a nod to what Nottingham people would normally be looking forward to at this time of year.
In the early hours of this morning (Wednesday) she travelled into the city centre under the cover of darkness – moving from her regular home at the council’s Woolsthorpe depot to a new temporary spot in Old Market Square.
Goosey will sit proudly atop a specially-made plinth until Sunday and she’s hoping to meet as many people as possible in the coming days.
Members of the public are invited – adhering to social distancing – to visit Old Market Square to see her and pose for a selfie. These can then be uploaded on to social media with the hashtags #Honk and #IMetGoosey.
On Thursday at noon, the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Rosemary Healy, will be joined by Town Crier, Tom Huggon, and members of the Showmen’s Guild for the traditional ringing of the Goose Fair bell.
This would normally take place on the fairground site at the Forest Recreation Ground. Councillor Healy will express disappointment that the event could not go ahead this year, but acknowledge its importance to Nottingham and say how much the city looks forward to Goose Fair’s return.
Councillor Healy said: “It was such a hard decision to cancel Goose Fair this year for only the ninth time in its more than 700-year history.
“We explored every option to go ahead, but with more than 400,000 visitors over five days, it was simply not possible with current Covid restrictions in place. People’s safety is the most important thing and there was no way we could proceed.
“However, if didn’t seem right not to mark the event in some way. Moving Goosey to Old Market Square from her normal spot on the Mansfield Road roundabout is a small thing, but hopefully lots of people will enjoy seeing her up close and posing for a picture.
“We’d love visitors to share their pictures and video with us on social media, as we all look forward to the event hopefully returning bigger and better in 2021.”
Several options to go ahead this year were considered, including creating a number of timed sessions to limit capacity to 25,000 people, or extending the length of the fair to ten days. However, neither of these options came close to providing capacity for the more than 400,000 visitors who would normally attend.
The other consideration was one of atmosphere. With reduced numbers, social distancing measures in place and lowered music levels, it was felt that if the event had been staged, much of the traditional atmosphere would have been lost.
Getting people to and from the site on public transport was also a major factor in reaching the decision.
The fair is normally the busiest week of the year for NET which has a stop at Goose Fair site at The Forest and in 2019 the tram network carried more than 455,000 passengers – around 8,000 more people than the previous year. Nottingham City Transport also reported an uplift in passengers with 42 extra services running to support the event.
Measures such as creating additional public car parking, a cycle park and encouraging walking to the event were initially considered as potential alternatives, but this was not felt to be sufficient.