HEAVY downpours led organisers of Newcastle’s Hoppings fair to postpone the opening of the event today.
FAIRGROUND fun at The Hoppings has been postponed again on Saturday after heavy downpours left the site unsafe.
The annual fair on Newcastle’s Town Moor will not open on Saturday after the opening was initially postponed yesterday due to the heavy downpours which have left the field a sea of mud.
Officials have confirmed the fair, which was due to open today, will not open tomorrow, Saturday, June 23, but they will continue to review the site on a daily basis.
Tony McKenna, Newcastle City Council’s head of leisure services, said: "We are assessing the situation on a daily basis as to when the fair can open to the public. In the meantime we are working very closely with the Freemen and Showmen's Guild to see what measures we can take to speed up the opening.
"For example, we will be putting down bark chippings and straw in the worst affected areas to try and soak up some of the surface water, and we will let the public know as soon as possible when it is safe to open.
"Just to reiterate that contrary to some misreporting by the media that the fair is not cancelled and merely delayed due to the extremely muddy ground conditions."
The amount of rain which fell before and after the fair rides came onto the site has been blamed for the postponement.
Speaking last night, Mr McKenna said: "The amount of rain we have had before the shows came on the site was quite significant which meant you have a soft site when the rides came on and they are coming in quite large.
"They caused some damage to the ground and over the last 24 hours we have had a huge amount of rain. The rides are wet as well and it is not going to get any better.
"The local authority gets quite detailed local weather forecasts so I know it is going to be extremely wet over the next 24 hours.
"So between the three organisations that help bring the Hoppings, the City Council, the Freemen of the City and the Showmen’s Guild, we have been on the site for a few hours and took the approach to review the situation on a daily basis."
Mr McKenna said the decision was taken on health and safety ground as well as taking into account how enjoyable the experience would be for families coming along in the extreme weather.
"The Hoppings has been postponed before but we are not canceling it, it will be reviewed on a daily basis to make sure it is safe for people and they will have a good time.
"Everyone agreed this was the most sensible approach," he said.
At around 5pm last night organisers made the announcement on their website.
Disappointed showmen and women expressed their upset at the weather ruining the annual fun.
Sixty-five-year-old Valerie Moody, who has been coming to the fair all her life and now acts as national education liaison officer for the Showmen’s Guild, said they were crossing their fingers the weather would pick up.
"I think it is devastating because so much time and effort goes into it. It’s not just about the big rides, as wonderful as they are, it is about everything.
"Everyone puts so much effort into their attractions to be the best, cleaning them, painting them before they come up and now it is a sea of mud. But it is no one’s fault, we cannot control the weather."
Valerie, whose family works on children’s rides, added: "I am sure all the showmen are devastated, it is our business. We are crossing our fingers the weather will improve, yesterday it was beautiful weather, so who knows.
"I know the weather forecast isn’t good but we’ll hope. I get such a thrill each year when I arrive at The Hoppings but at the moment I am sat in my caravan in my wellies, but we shall survive, that is what showmen do."
Heavy rain also saw the Lanchester Agricultural Show in County Durham forced to change location to Strealam Park in Barnard Castle on July 1.