Pole Fair FAQs

Corby’s Town Crier at Corby Pole Fair 2022 © ABDigitalUK Photography

<< Back to Corby Pole Fair main menu

Frequently Asked Questions about Corby Pole Fair 2022

About Corby’s Pole Fair heritage celebration

The Corby Pole Fair 2022 has been made possible thanks to generous support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. It has also enabled activities in the run-up to Pole Fair including artist-led workshops with young people, an education pack exploring the history of Corby to be provided free of charge to all local schools and restoration of the entire pole fair archive to preserve it for future generations. Over the next 6 months, their investment will also support further work on the pole fair archive, a trail of permanent heritage information boards across the old village and support for local groups interested in exploring Corby’s heritage further.

Lots of visitors to Corby Pole Fair are curious about what goes on ‘behind the scenes’, so we’ve created these Frequently Asked Questions to help local people understand more about this year-long heritage project.

Where can I see photos and videos of this year’s Pole Fair?

We have already published a selection of the photos we took on the day and a video is currently being made – view the photos and find out more about the video HERE.

Who ran the Corby Pole Fair?

The Pole Fair is a community-led project, overseen by a volunteer committee of Corby people that have been working on the plans for over 4 years.

Made With Many, a local cultural programme funded by Arts Council England and operated by Groundwork Northamptonshire, were invited by the volunteer committee to help them run the project.  85% of the Made With Many team live within North Northamptonshire (the area covered by our wider programme). Made With Many did not take a fee for their contribution to the project (which included over £40,000 of staff time) and contributed over £20,000 cash of their own funds to the budget.

ArtReach, a cultural organisation based in Leicester, were recruited through an open process to provide event management services including coordinating infrastructure, security, health & safety and permissions.

We recruited a small number of additional staff to help on the day of Pole Fair, when the volunteer numbers were low and we needed people that would work the full day.

How did you decide what to have at the fair?

The decision-making process was led by the volunteer committee, following a period of consultation. Despite government restrictions as part of the pandemic, we delivered a range of consultation activities with local residents and community groups, from December 2020 to September 2021. These included:

  • Survey – We conducted an online survey to gather public opinion around what the fair should look like, who should be involved and what heritage should be prioritised. We also issued over 800 paper surveys to every house in the Old Village and via the council’s sheltered housing team.
  • Focus groups – In November 2020 we hosted a series of 5 online focus groups to discuss in depth a number of aspects of the fair. Some of these were open sessions, whilst others were targeted at schools, community groups and cultural organisations.
  • Community Workshops – In September 2021 we held two open community workshops in the Old Village. These included a brief presentation from the volunteer committee about the plans for the fair and an open discussion followed by a screening of the archive film. These were well attended, created new partnerships and fruitful discussions.
  • Community Engagement – Over the summer of 2021, we consulted with a range of local residents at community events, including a summer garden party and community fun day.
  • Individual meetings – We held a number of individual meetings with key stakeholders and community groups.
  • Business Engagement – In November 2020 we consulted with a group of local businesses through a presentation at a Love Corby networking event. In September 2021, we individually spoke to every business in the Old Village area about the fair and asked for their suggestions.

The survey, focus groups and community workshops were advertised through local press as well as via social media. The timing of the consultation was essential to make sure that funding applications could be submitted in time to have the funds secured.

Decisions about the content of the fair were also influenced by what funding bodies would (and wouldn’t) be willing to pay for. We had an open callout for local community groups and performers that wanted to be involved in the event for over 3 months.

Why were there so many road closures?

We needed to close a number of roads in the old village area to make both the preparations for the fair and the event itself safe for the public and our crew. This included keeping a ‘blue route’ clear for emergency services.

All road closures were signed off by the local authority and emergency services. As well as the statutory notices, we sent two letters to every resident which were generously delivered by the Corby Old Village Neighbourhood Association and attended three neighbourhood association meetings to address any concerns. We would like to thank residents for their understanding with this.

Why was the event so spread out?

There’s two main reasons as to why the event took place over such a big site. Firstly, we had to plan for big crowds and for public safety needed to avoid too many people being in one place. Secondly, many parts of the fair had special requirements that meant that they couldn’t take place on the Charter Field, such as the Jousting and Viking Encampment.

We had planned to have a golf buggy on site, to be available to transport attendees with mobility issues, as well as help residents of the Old Village with the road closures. However, we were let down by the suppliers when this failed to be delivered the afternoon before the fair.

Why didn’t the greasy pole competition go ahead?

Historically, the Pole Fair has included the challenge of the Greasy Pole, where local people try their best to climb a greased telegraph pole for a chance to win a joint of ham. It’s been a central part of the fair throughout the 20th century (& possibly even earlier!).

Unfortunately, due to the changing health & safety regulations, we were unable to have people climb the Pole this year. We’ve tried our best over the last six months to make the greasy pole happen in its traditional format, including looking at additional safety measures and legal disclaimers. However, after contacting many brokers, we were unable to find a company to insure the activity and without appropriate insurance it could not go ahead. We were extremely disappointed by having to make this difficult decision.

Where were the stocks and the stang?

The stocks were in their traditional position on Stocks Lane. We commissioned Casson & Friends to re-create the traditional stang, with an opportunity for local people to participate, in a safe way which was performed throughout the day on the High Street.

Why weren’t there more activities for families?

Due to the requirements of the funding, money had to be spent on heritage-related activities that celebrated the pre-1900s history of Corby. We tried to make these family-friendly, with the Viking encampment, story-telling and jousting. We published a Family Explorer Guide in advance to make it easy for families to find activities to suit them.

Why did food stands run out & why were things so expensive?

As organisers, we don’t have any influence on things like the number of rides brought by the fair and the prices or stock levels of food vendors.

There were 22 food vendors across the site, providing different options. We were aware that these may be expensive for some families, so we provided 900 portions of breakfast and 300 children’s picnic lunches free of charge.

Where did the money to run the Pole Fair come from?

The funds to run the Corby Pole Fair, and associated activities, came from a variety of sources, as listed below:

National Lottery Heritage Fund  £158,000
Made With Many funds  (from Arts Council England)        £20,500
National Lottery Community Fund  £10,000
North Northamptonshire Council £5,000
Corby Town Council   £2,000
Earned Income (including sponsorship)£15,000
On the day sales£16,196

Previous grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund have paid for the restoration of the Pole Fair archive and the production of an education pack that was provided to all local schools free of charge earlier in the year.

What was the money spent on?

The Corby Pole Fair event on the 3rd June 2022 was part of a year-long heritage celebration.

The costs for the entire project are broken down as follows:

Pre-Pole Fair engagement activities                        6.5%
Heritage activities 13.2%
Arts activities   3.1%
Community activities  2.3%
Event management & production staff  16.8%
Infrastructure  17.3%
Security 12.3%
Marketing, programme & branding 6.5%
Insurance  1.8%
Film, photography & archiving 11.8%
Legacy projects   3.4%
Contingency  5%

Infrastructure costs, such as security, toilets & site cleaning, were calculated on official advice from professional bodies for events of this size. Many of these elements incurred additional costs as it was a bank holiday weekend.  As per funding regulations, three competitive quotes were gained for all contracts worth over £10k.

Each of the grants received came with strict guidelines as to what the funds could and couldn’t be spent on, so there was little ‘wriggle room’ in the budget.

What happens to unspent money?

Any unspent funds from grants, including the contingency, will have to be returned to the funders. The balance of the earned and sales income will be used for future heritage events for the town, including leaving a legacy fund for whoever organises the 2042 Pole Fair.

If your question isn’t answered here, please email info@madewithmany.org

<< Back to Corby Pole Fair main menu


Get regular updates at Corby Pole Fair‘s facebook page – or sign up for Made With Many’s e-newsletter.

Published 7th June 2022

Share this with your friends