The traditions remained the same as Lynn’s historic Mart opened for business today, except in one way.
A phrase often heard at this time of year is “Mart weather”, referring to the freezing conditions that seem to come just in time for the fair.
But the biting winds and snow flurries of recent days gave way to bright blue skies as dozens of civic dignataries gathered for the opening ceremony on Tuesday lunchtime.
Hundreds more people crowded into the Tuesday Market Place to see the Mart formally opened by borough mayor David Whitby, who admitted he didn’t have the stomach for some of the faster rides on offer.
He said: “I’ll stick to the side stalls and let you brave people have all the fun of the fair.”
He thanked everyone who had helped to make the fair possible, a sentiment echoed by John Culine, national president of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain.
Traditionally, the Lynn Mart is the first fair of the guild’s calendar and Mr Culine said the town was fortunate to have a charter for the event, which dates back to the reign of King John.
He said: “We want to entertain you and make you have a happy fair and we hope you do.”
The proclaimation of opening was read by borough council chief executive Ray Harding.
The opening ceremony was preceded by a civic procession from the town hall to the square.
The civic party included town MP Sir Henry Bellingham, many borough councillors and Honorary Aldermen, plus the mayors of Downham, Hunstanton and Swaffham – Marion Ross, James Johnson and Paul Darby – plus other civic leaders.
And, once the formalities were over, many of the civic party tested their driving skills on the dodgems, though Mr Whitby joked he wasn’t sure they were as roomy as when he was a youngster.
The ceremony was followed by the Showmen’s Guild luncheon, which was held at the Duke’s Head hotel.