'It's like coming home'- Showmen welcomed to King's Lynn for 816th official Mart open
PUBLISHED: 16:44 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 14 February 2020
Travelling showmen were officially welcomed to a Norfolk town after its traditional Mart was declared open.
The 816th opening of the King's Lynn Mart took place on Friday, February 14 on its annual Valentine Day opening.
Families and fairground enthusiasts gathered on the Tuesday Market Place in King's Lynn to welcome the official opening of the Mart by west Norfolk Mayor Geoff Hipperson. The Mart, which was granted a Royal charter by King Henry VIII in 1537, attracts thousands of people to the centre of town. A procession of clergy, dignitaries, members of west Norfolk council and guests took place from the Town Hall to the High Street, followed by prayers and a blessing over the showmen and members of the public before a bell was rung to mark the official opening.
Philip Paris, National President of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, said: "It's fantastic to see the setup and how well supported it is. If members of the public did not attend the showmen would not be able to come, so it's great to see. "No matter what part of the country you come from the showman community is a big family and we do our best to help each other."
Donald Gray, chief steward, grew up in King's Lynn as a child and said returning to the town as part of the Mart was particularly special for him.
He said: "When you see all the chain gang here, it makes it so heartwarming, to see mayors from all over the region and officials welcome us in is special. "I travel all over East Anglia and I rate here number one in the country, it's like coming to the Premier League."
The event will run from Friday, February 14 to Saturday, February 22.
Children's day is on Monday, February 17 where most of the rides will be £1.
Mr Gray added that Storm Dennis could close the fair over the weekend and is monitoring the situation. He said: "If the storm gets too bad and the wind gets to a certain speed, we will close the fair. "The safety of the public is our main priority." For now the Mart is open and organisers will confirm any changes. Mr Gray added: "Hopefully the weather will be good and we're looking forward to the Lynn people enjoying the Mart."