Vintage fair returns to Norfolk village
PUBLISHED: 15:54 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:15 03 August 2018
The Little Vintage Lover Fair returns to Heydon this Sunday, August 5. But what inspired the first event 10 years ago?
When I visit the little village of Heydon each year, I travel back in time.
Crowds of people gather on a small patch of grass in this idyllic Norfolk village, just 15 miles north of Norwich.
It is one of a dozen villages across the UK that is still privately owned, and you can certainly tell: it has a pub, a hair salon, a tearoom and a church, and its row of picture-perfect country cottages looks largely undisturbed.
But for one – often hot – day in August, Heydon comes alive. Visitors rummage through rails stocked with vintage frocks and sway to the dulcet tones of an antique gramophone. Sometimes they even walk away in another person’s shoes.
It’s all in honour of the Little Vintage Lover Fair – a fixture which has been on the village calendar for almost a decade.
It was first established in 2008 by vintage-enthusiast and Norfolk-native Zoe Durrant-Keegan, who describes it as a “coming together of like-minded people.”
“I was living in Sweden at the time and had had a bad accident, breaking three ribs and puncturing my lung,” says Zoe. “I had to rest for a long time and I was really bored. I thought about a way to come back to Norfolk more often and in a way that I could monetise, to pay for my trips.”
While vintage had always been a part of her life, it was not always a passion, confesses Zoe. “My mother always dealt in vintage and antiques and when I was a child I didn’t really understand it. I wanted everything new like all my friends.”
But becoming a student changed Zoe’s mind. “I moved to London at 19, and my friends and I would hang out at Portobello Road Market – that’s when I really got into it,” she says.
The first of Zoe’s vintage fairs in Norfolk took place in Blakeney. “At our first event I had just 10 traders – but one of those happened to be the best vintage shop in Norfolk – Past Caring, in Holt. This set the standard high and other great traders followed. I was so nervous on the morning of the first event that I hid in the kitchen when everyone arrived. But it turned out to be a great success.”
After this, Zoe moved her Little Vintage Lover Fair to Heydon where she grew up. “I lived in one of the gatehouses,” she says. “I spent my childhood playing on the village green, I took my pony to the blacksmith, I had my first job in the hair salon and my mum worked part-time in The Earle Arms.” Zoe even returned to get married in the church last year.
In keeping with such a small village – Heydon has around 100 residents – Zoe says that the village’s first event was actually quite small. “It was really quiet which is hard to believe now. It was just a small gathering of vintage enthusiasts and people who lived in the village.”
While the fair has grown noticeably since then, the vibe hasn’t changed. It has retained what Zoe refers to as a “unique charm,” and continues to attract a group of like-minded people.
“Many ladies and gents dress up in their vintage finery,” says Zoe. “There’s always a great atmosphere. Our event is just in one area but visitors usually wander into the village, visit the tearooms or the pub and sit on the green and stay for the whole day.”
After a visit to the fair, many visitors – myself included – pay a visit to Heydon Village Tea Shop. “A cup of tea and a slice of cake certainly goes hand in hand with the feel of the day,” says its owner Cindy Watson.
“It is our busiest day of the year by a country mile,” she says. “Feedback is outstanding and people ask us year through when the next one will be. It’s a good platform for people who haven’t visited Heydon before to see what the village and businesses have to offer – and hopefully tempt them back at a later date!”
The village has a “wonderful community” says Cindy, and it is this, along with Zoe’s curatorial approach to the event, that leaves the Little Vintage Lover Fair feeling more like a fete – although Zoe is the first to admit there’s no room for throwing wellies.
“There are a few traders who have been attending our events since they began and they feel like my extended family,” she says. “I think that contributes to the fun and banter on the day, as everyone usually gets on really well.”
This year, Zoe says that the event will include two DJs – The Mailman and DJ Jazzlord – along with local artist Lucy Loveheart. Fashion stylist Karen James-Welton – known on the vintage scene as The Fabulous Miss K – will also be there, offering her top styling tips.
Events such as Little Vintage Lover Fair are a favourite of Karen’s, and a great way for people to get into the trend, she says. “Vintage fairs are particularly good for people who might be too nervous to go into a vintage shop for the first time – they are a great way to get a first taste, and to have a day out.”
A decade since it began, it’s no wonder that the Little Vintage Lover Fair is thriving. More vintage shops are popping up across the region, and charity shops and vintage boutiques are continuing to fare well on the high-street nationally.
“I think vintage is becoming more accessible,” says Karen. “People are becoming interested in sustainability and moving away from fast fashion. Vintage is such a great way to shop diversely.”
And that, perhaps, is the point. Every year, the Little Vintage Lover Fair brings people from all walks of life to descend on this small Norfolk village – united by a love of a bygone era. Long may it continue.
Little Vintage Lover Fair, Heydon Village on August 5, 10-4pm.