Traditions: Old & New

Riding the Stang at Pole Fair 1982 ©Glyn Dobbs [Northants Telegraph]

Traditions: Old & New

Blog by Helen Willmott, Programme Director at Made With Many

A couple of years ago, I had my first discussion about the Corby Pole Fair, a once in every 20 years local celebration of history and community. Having been living out of the county at the time of the last event in 2002 (& not born yet for the ones before that!), I didn’t know a lot about it. Since, I’ve discovered lots about the fair and the historic traditions that hold it together. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the research and production of an archive film by HD Media CIC and spent many hours chatting to the committee about their memories.

The film, and accompanying memories, have made me reflect upon how our traditions define us. Whether it’s attending a charter reading at dawn once every 20 years, collective traditions around holidays or the simple family traditions of birthday celebrations, traditions are often the glue that holds us together, express who we are and provide moments for shared joy (and sometimes sadness). The candles on a birthday cake, Christmas tree decorations and Diwali lights are all an important part of who we are.

But we’ve also been discussing the need for new traditions. With the Corby Pole Fair, new traditions have been added over the centuries as the event has developed in keeping with the interests of local residents at the time of each fair. And over the last year, many traditions have had to be changed to take place remotely with video calls replacing parties, meals and communal activities.

As we’re able to start to meet in groups again, and many venues re-open, I think that it’s important that we remember to celebrate and embrace the old traditions that make us who we are, but not to be afraid of creating new ways to celebrate important occasions.

Find out more about free screening of the Pole Fair archive film on 24th June, and please find booking details at

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