About the Great Dorset Steam Fair
The town of Dorchester lies about 10 miles from the southern coast of England. The novelist and author Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was the towns most famous celebrity but it was also the home of Sir Frederick Treves, the physician of King Edward VII, and a friend of Joseph Merrick a.k.a. The Elephant Man. All very interesting but we all know that reading great literature and learning about medical oddities are best saved for cold winter nights. Why? Because summertime is the season for steam rallies. And the biggest and best one of the year is the annual five day event held about 20 miles to the northeast of Dorchester at Tarrant Hinton: The Great Dorset Steam Fair.
The UK has a wealth of great steam events all over the country. They all support good causes and provide a day or weekend of fun for the whole family. But, in terms of size, the other steam rallies are like a church hall Bingo game and raffle while the Great Dorset Steam Fair is like a trip to Monaco or Las Vegas. It is the largest steam and vintage show in the world.
Spread over 600 acres and five days, the event features about 1000 trade stands and 2000 exhibitors and becomes a small city in itself with 25,000 people involved with the Fair. Over 200,000 people are expected to attend. Nostalgic elements include commemorations of both World Wars from the previous century and displays of vintage steam engines and historic motor vehicles. At night the place becomes a Las Vegas like 'lightstorm' with live music, variety show, rides and yes, all those fairground aromas!
Great Dorset Steam Fair
Martin Oliver is the leader of the show taking over when his father Michael sadly passed away in 2009. It began over 50 years ago and just kept growing and growing. The statistics tell the story. It requires 10 miles of electrical cable to keep the power flowing. 200 tonnes of coal will be consumed as well as 550 barrels of beer. Martin’s family and a staff of about 300 people keep things in order.
Entry To The Fair
The car parking area will open at 7:00 a.m and the gates to the fair open an hour later. No need to leave at sundown as the parking area stays open until 2:00 a.m. Because this is a five day event there are several ticket packages. First is the 5 day package at £95.00 for adults age 16-59, £85.00 for seniors 60+ and £25.00 for kids age 6-15. Kids under 6 get in at no cost. Entry for a single day is £27.50 adults, £25.00 seniors and £9.00 for kids if bought on the same day. Evening only tickets for Thursday through Sunday after 5:00 p.m. are £15.00 and on the last day of the show on Monday everyone pays £17.50. Order ahead online for a discount off the same day price.
Somewhere to Stay in Dorset
The huge rally is a dream for campers who can spend up to a full week (Tuesday before the Fair to the Tuesday after it) at the 170 acre campsite designated for this event. There is room for up to 5,000 individual spots for caravans and tents including disabled camping for badge holders. At £22.50 per night, pre-paying campers will have water for drinking, access to showers, toilets and Elsan facilities. At some locations there are shops for other essentials. There should be room for those last minute campers who choose to pay on arrival. The fee is £30.00 per night but the campsites for the pay on arrival campers will lack any electrical hook-ups. For those seeking a B&B or a Hotel, there are plenty of choices between Salisbury and Dorchester along the A354.
Getting To Tarrant Hinton
The key for drivers arriving at the Great Dorset Steam Fair from any direction is to get on the A354 from Salisbury or take the A35 from Dorchester to the second exit at the roundabout in Puddletown to get onto the A354. The destination Is about 20 miles from each town just off the A354. Bus services by the Damory Coach Company will go directly to the Fair site from Salisbury and Blandford Forum at the Crown hotel. And if all else fails just follow the line of cars that will be heading to the same destination.
Other Things To Do Around Dorset
With such a large event it would be entirely possible to spend the full five days at the Great Dorset Steam Rally and never have to leave your campsite. Most families, however, will want to explore the surrounding area’s attractions. Salisbury Cathedral is a must see dating to 1220 and where one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the foundation of the British constitution, is displayed. In Dorchester, the aforementioned Thomas Hardy was one of the founders of the Dorset County Museum featuring the Thomas Hardy archive, which has some handwritten manuscripts and curious items like a dress that belonged to Hardy’s sister and is thought to have inspired the dress in his novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
The 'bottom line' is that this is an event not to be missed even if you are visiting for just one day. Dogs are welcome but remember that your pooch must be well behaved and be able to handle the large and noisy venue. At the end of the day expect to be exhausted but also very satisfied and anxious to return next year.
When is the next Great Dorset Steam Fair?
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is planned to take place at Tarrant Hinton, Blandford Forum, , Dorset, DT11 8HX, Thursday 27th August, 2020. This is a Five Day Show.
01258 860 361
External Website : Check this link for more information if necessary.
When using a phone number please be respectful if the organiser uses their private number - remember a lot of these events are for charity and run by volunteers.
Please do not contact us directly about this event as we publicise the event only.
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