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Video and gallery: Gressenhall’s Spring Fair celebrates the season

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Spring Fair. William Jones, 7, rides one of the carnival themed costumes. Picture: Denise Bradley

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Spring Fair. William Jones, 7, rides one of the carnival themed costumes. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2014

A sun-blessed celebration of the season topped off a hugely successful Easter holiday period at Norfolk’s rural life museum.

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham, attracted an estimated 2,800 people to its Spring Fair on Easter Monday, an event which mixed family fun with a chance to explore the county’s agricultural heritage.

The event was the culmination of a school holiday fortnight which has seen visitor figures much higher than usual – with the success being accredited to the warm weather, the popularity of Norfolk museums passes, and the rising profile of the venue.

On Monday, the sunshine helped create a carnival atmosphere, with a circus skills workshop, food and craft stands, musicians, an inflatable obstacle course and stilt-walkers entertaining children outside the Georgian workhouse building.

Meanwhile a bucking mechanical “rodeo sheep” had families queueing to see who could stay on the ride longest.

Meanwhile down on the farm, there were working displays by heavy horses and a chance to see the farm’s new arrivals including a litter of piglets and a new-born baby lamb, which had been delivered right on cue earlier that morning.

Gressenhall’s farm manager, Richard Dalton, said: “We have had a fantastic Easter holiday period, with a great run of visitor numbers. Usually, anywhere between 350-400 people is a good day, but we have been getting well over 600 visitors every day during this holiday. The weather has been a major factor, but we have a high profile and we now have a very good pass covering the whole museums service.

“Today we have been blessed with fantastic weather again and people are coming out to enjoy it.”

The Eastern Counties Heavy Horse Association brought about 15 animals to the event, joining the farm’s usual workforce of five Suffolk Punches to toil in the fields – ploughing, harrowing and cultivating.

Mr Dalton said: “We’re putting on a show, but it is much more than that. It is the beginning of a long process of transferring skills from people like me to the next generation of people.

“If you can show someone the things their grandfather used to do, then you can pass it on. But unless you have got your hands on the plough, to feel it and do it, you won’t know what it is all about.”

Hannah Jackson, the museum’s sustainability project officer, said: “We have had fantastic visitor numbers during the Easter holidays, and we couldn’t have asked for a better spring-time day.

“On Maundy Thursday our farm manager heard the first cuckoo, and on good Friday he saw the first swallow of the year, so all the signs are there and the weather has been brilliant.”

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