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A trade fair for the travel industry 2008Overview1.JPG
A trade fair for the travel industry
A boy at the fish pond, the Rockton World's Fair, harvest festival, Canada, 2010 Fairgames.jpg
A boy at the fish pond, the Rockton World's Fair, harvest festival, Canada, 2010

A fair (archaic: faire or fayre) is a gathering of people for a variety of entertainment or commercial activities. Fairs are typically temporary with scheduled times lasting from an afternoon to several weeks.



Roundabouts (also known as a carousel or merry-go-round) are traditional attractions, often seen at fairs Goose Fair Roundabout.jpg
Roundabouts (also known as a carousel or merry-go-round) are traditional attractions, often seen at fairs

Variations of fairs include:


Village fair by Flemish artist Gillis Mostaert 1590 1590 Mostaert Dorfkirmes anagoria.JPG
Village fair by Flemish artist Gillis Mostaert 1590
Fairs can include exhibitions of animals, and before competitions, the animals will be groomed by their owners Delaware State Fair 2009.jpg
Fairs can include exhibitions of animals, and before competitions, the animals will be groomed by their owners
The Horse Fair, painting by Rosa Bonheur (1852-1855) Rosa Bonheur, The Horse Fair, 1852-55.jpg
The Horse Fair , painting by Rosa Bonheur (1852-1855)

The Roman fairs were holidays on which there was an intermission of labour and pleadings.[ clarification needed ] In the Roman provinces of Judea and Syria Palaestina, Jewish rabbis prohibited Jews from participating in fairs in certain towns because the religious nature of the fairs contravened the prescribed practice of Judaism. [1]

In the Middle Ages, many fairs developed as temporary markets and were especially important for long-distance and international trade, as wholesale traders travelled, sometimes for many days, to fairs where they could be sure to meet those they needed to buy from or sell to. Fairs were usually tied to special Christian religious occasions, such as the Saint's day of the local church. Stagshaw in England, is documented to have held annual fairs as early as 1293 consisting of the sales of animals. Along with the main fair held on 4 July, the city also hosted smaller fairs throughout the year where specific types of animals were sold, such as one for horses, one for lambs, and one for ewes. [2]

The Kumbh Mela, held every twelve years, at Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain is one of the largest fairs in India, where more than 60 million people gathered in January 2001, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world. [3] [4] [5] Kumbha means a pitcher and Mela means fair in Sanskrit.

In the United States, fairs draw in as many as 150 million people each summer. [6] Children's competitions at an American fair range from breeding small animals to robotics, whilst the organization 4-H has become a traditional association. [6]


Fairs attracted great numbers of people and they often resulted in public order issues and sometimes riots. The holding of fairs was, therefore, granted by royal charter. Initially they were only allowed in towns and places where order could be maintained due to the presence of a bishop, sheriff or governor. Later various benefits were granted to specific fairs, such as the granting of a holiday status to a fair or protections against arrest for specific laws for the duration of the fair. Officials were authorised to mete out justice to those who attended their fair; this led to even the smallest fair having a court to adjudicate on offences and disputes arising within the fairground. These courts were called a pye powder court (from Old French pieds pouldres, literally "dusty feet", meaning an itinerant trader, from Medieval Latin pedes pulverosi).

In art and language

The chaotic nature of the Stagshaw Bank Fair with masses of people and animals and stalls inspired the Newcastle colloquialism "like a Stagey Bank Fair" to describe a general mess. [2]

The American county fair is featured in E. B. White's Charlotte's Web . [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Festival Organised series of acts and performances

A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or eid. A festival constitutes typical cases of glocalization, as well as the high culture-low culture interrelationship. Next to religion and folklore, a significant origin is agricultural. Food is such a vital resource that many festivals are associated with harvest time. Religious commemoration and thanksgiving for good harvests are blended in events that take place in autumn, such as Halloween in the northern hemisphere and Easter in the southern.

Kumbh Mela Hindu pilgrimage and festival celebrated in India

Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela is a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism. It is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years, to celebrate every revolution Brihaspati (Jupiter) completes, at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: Allahabad, Haridwar (Ganges), Nashik (Godavari), and Ujjain (Shipra). The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the waters, but it is also a celebration of community commerce with numerous fairs, education, religious discourses by saints, mass feedings of monks or the poor, and entertainment spectacle. The seekers believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to prāyaścitta for past mistakes, and that it cleanses them of their sins.

Vaisakhi Religious, harvest and traditional new year festival in Punjab, India

Vaisakhi, also pronounced Baisakhi, marks the first day of the month of Vaisakh and is traditionally celebrated annually on 13 April and sometimes 14 April as a celebration of spring harvest primarily in Northern India. Further, other Indian cultures and diaspora celebrate this festival too. Whilst it is culturally significant as a festival of harvest, some also consider Vaisakhi to be the legitimate date for the Indian Solar New Year. However, this is not a universally accepted belief as Hindus do not have a common New Year's Day, with some individuals considering the previous month of Chet as the New Year.

Pushkar Fair

The Pushkar Fair, also called the Pushkar Camel Fair or locally as Kartik Mela or Pushkar ka Mela is an annual multi-day livestock fair and cultural fête held in the town of Pushkar near Ajmer city in Ajmer district in. The fair starts with the Hindu calendar month of Kartik and ends on the Kartik Purnima, which typically overlaps with late October and early November in the Gregorian calendar. In 1998, over 1 million visitors came to Pushkar throughout the year. The Pushkar fair alone attracts over 200,000 visitors.

Melā Sanskrit word meaning "gathering" or "to meet" or a "fair"

Mela is a Sanskrit word meaning "gathering" or "to meet" or a "fair". It is used in the Indian subcontinent for all sizes of gatherings and can be religious, commercial, cultural or sport-related. In rural traditions melas or village fairs were of great importance. This led to their export around the world by South Asian diaspora communities wishing to bring something of that tradition to their new countries.

Kolkata has many festivals throughout the year. Durga Puja is the largest festival of West Bengal, and it features colourful pandals, decorative idols of Hindu goddess Durga and her family, lighting decorations and fireworks. Other major festivals are Diwali, Kali Puja, Holi, Saraswati Puja, Poush Parbon, Poila Boishakh, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, etc.

Nabanna A Bengali harvest festival

Nobanno is a Bengali harvest celebration usually celebrated with food and dance and music in Bangladesh and in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley. It is a festival of food; many local preparations of Bengali cuisine like pitha are cooked.

1954 Kumbh Mela stampede occurred in 1954 at Kumbha Mela on 3 February 1954 in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh state in India. It was the main bathing day of Mauni Amavasya, when the incident took place. During the festival 4–5 million pilgrims had taken part that year, which was also the first Kumbh Mela after the Independence.

Harela Mela is a fair that takes place every year from July 16 to July 21 and is usually held on the RamLeela Ground in Bhimtal. The Harela Mela commemorates celebrations surrounding the historic Kumaon festival of Harela in the state of Uttarakhand.

Edinburgh Mela

The Edinburgh Mela is an annual multi-cultural festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is one of the 12 festivals that make up the Edinburgh Festival. The first mela, a Sanskrit word meaning "gathering" or "to meet", was held in 1995 at Meadowbank Stadium, and was organised by members of the city's minority ethnic communities. The festival moved to Pilrig Park in 2000, and to Leith Links in 2010. Running over three days in September, the event attracts around 20 to 25,000 people each year.

Magh Mela

Magh mela, also spelled Magha mela, is an annual festival with fairs held in the month of Magha (January/February) near river banks and sacred tanks near Hindu temples. About every twelve years, Magha melas coincide with what is believed by faithful as an astrologically auspicious position of Jupiter, sun and moon, and these are called the Kumbh Mela such as the one at Allahabad. In the south, a notable festival is at the Mahamaham tank in Kumbhakonam; in the east, at Sagar island of West Bengal and Konark, Puri. The Magha festival, along with the bathing rituals as a form of penance, is also observed by the Hindu community in Bali, Indonesia.

Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela is a 2004 feature documentary film by Nick Day and Maurizio Benazzo about the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad. The documentary premiered in the USA on May 11, 2004. The film won several awards on the festival circuit and played in theaters across the US and Europe.

On 10 February 2013, during the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela, a stampede broke out at the train station in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, killing 42 people and injuring at least 300 people.

Haridwar Kumbh Mela Mela held in Haridwar, India

The Kumbh Mela at Haridwar is a mela held every 12 years at Haridwar, India. The exact date is determined according to Hindu astrology: the Mela is held when Jupiter is in Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.

Ujjain Simhastha Hindu religious mela held every 12 years

Ujjain Simhastha is a Hindu religious mela held every 12 years in the Ujjain city of Madhya Pradesh, India. The name is also transliterated as Sinhastha or Singhastha. In Hindi, the fair is also called Simhasth or Sinhasth. The name derives from the fact that it is held when the Jupiter is in Leo.

Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha

Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha is a Hindu religious mela held every 12 years in the Nashik district of Maharashtra, India. The name of the festival is also transliterated as Sinhastha or Singhastha. It is one of the four fairs traditionally recognized as Kumbha Melas, and is also known as Nashik-Trimbak Kumbha Mela or Nashik Kumbha Mela.

The Allahabad Kumbh Mela, also Prayag Kumbh Mela, is a mela, or religious gathering, associated with Hinduism and held in the city of Allahabad, India, at the Prayag or Triveni Sangam—which represents the confluence of three rivers two of which, the Ganges and the Yamuna, have objective existence, and one, the Sarasvati is mythical. The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the waters, but it is also a celebration of community commerce with numerous fairs, education, religious discourses by saints, mass feedings of monks or the poor, and entertainment spectacle. Approximately 50 and 30 million people attended the Allahabad Ardh Kumbh Mela in 2019 and Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013 respectively to bathe in the holy river Ganges, making them the largest peaceful gathering events in the world.

Culture of Nashik

The culture of the city of Nashik, in northwestern Maharashtra, is centred around Hindu customs and festivals.

2019 Prayag Kumbh Mela Ardh Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad from January to March 2019

The 2019 Prayagraj Ardh Kumbh Mela was the Ardh Kumbh Mela held at Triveni Sangam in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India from 15 January to 4 March 2019.

Sibi Mela

The Sibi Mela is an annual cultural show held in Sibi, in the Balochistan Province of Pakistan. The first Sibi Mela was held in Sibi in January 1885. It has subsequently developed into a cultural festival, with animal markets, camel racing, tent pegging and exhibitions of handicrafts, tribal dresses and folk dances.


  1. Schäfer, Peter (2002). The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture. Mohr Siebeck. pp. 448–. ISBN   9783161478529 . Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 Norderhaug, Jennifer; Thompson, Jennifer Norderhaug & Barbara (2006-08-01). Walking the Northumbria Dales: Un. Sigma Press. pp. 63–. ISBN   9781850588382 . Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  3. Millions bathe at Hindu festival BBC News , January 3, 2007.
  4. Kumbh Mela pictured from space - probably the largest human gathering in history BBC News , January 26, 2001.
  5. Lewis, Karoki (2008-03-22). "Kumbh Mela: the largest pilgrimage". The Times . Archived from the original on 2010-05-29. Retrieved 2019-09-18.
  6. 1 2 3 Von Drehle, David (2007-07-23). "A new Day at the Fair". Time. Vol. 170, no. 4. Photographs by Greg Miller. p. 50. ISSN   0040-781X.

Further reading