Last updated
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. Fairs showcase a wide range of goods, products, and services, and often include competitions, exhibitions, and educational activities. Fairs can be thematic, focusing on specific industries or interests. [1]



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 work and business such as law courts were suspended. 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. [2]

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. The most famous were the Champagne fairs in northern France, which were spread over six towns for a total period of about six weeks, drawing goods and customers from much of Europe. The Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, still the largest trade fair for the publishing industry, began in the 12th century as a fair for manuscript books.

Fairs were usually tied to special Christian feast days, such as the day of the saint 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. [3]

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. [4] [5] [6] 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. [7] Children's competitions at an American fair range from breeding small animals to robotics, whilst the organizations National FFA Organization & 4-H have become the traditional associations. [7]

Sirsi Fair

The Sirsi Marikamba Devi Fair of the deity is held every alternate year in the month of March and taken through the city Sirsi, Karnataka. It is attended by a very large number of devotees. It is also most famous and biggest fair (Jaatre) of the India. Devotees from all around the state participate in this enormous event indulging themselves in the procession. Amusements for children, circuses, variety of shops, dramas and plays and many such things are set up for the people. It depicts the story of the goddess killing Mahishasura.


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. [3]

The American county fair is featured in E. B. White's Charlotte's Web . [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kumbh Mela</span> Hindu pilgrimage and festival celebrated in India

Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela is a major pilgrimage and festival in Hinduism, On February 4, 2019, Kumbh Mela witnessed the largest public gathering. It is celebrated in a cycle of approximately 12 years, to celebrate every revolution Brihaspati (Jupiter) completes, at four river-bank pilgrimage sites: Prayagraj, 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 gatherings of monks, and entertainment. The seekers believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to prāyaścitta for past mistakes, and that it cleanses them of their sins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Melā</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kolkata Book Fair</span> Annual book fair in Kolkata, India

The International Kolkata Book Fair is a winter fair in Kolkata. It is a unique book fair in the sense of not being a trade fair—the book fair is primarily for the general public rather than whole-sale distributors. It is the world's largest non-trade book fair, Asia's largest book fair and the most attended book fair. It is the world's third-largest annual conglomeration of books after the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair. Many Kolkatans consider the book fair an inherent part of Kolkata, and instances of people visiting the fair every day during its duration are not uncommon. The fair offers a typical fairground experience with a book flavour—with picnickers, singer-songwriters, and candy floss vendors. With a total footfall of over 2 million people, it is world's largest book fair by attendance.

Kolkata has many festivals throughout the year. The largest and most magnificently celebrated festival of the city is Durga Puja, 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, Christmas, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, etc.

1954 Kumbh Mela "stampede" was a major crowd crush that occurred on 3 February 1954 at Kumbha Mela in Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh state in India. It was the main bathing day of Mauni Amavasya, when the incident took place. 4–5 million pilgrims took part in the festival that year, which was also the first Kumbh Mela after India's Independence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magh Mela</span> Annual festival which is held in the month of Magha near river banks and Hindu temples.

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.

Mass gatherings are events attended by a sufficient number of people to strain the planning and response resources of the host community, state/province, nation, or region where it is being held. Definitions of a mass gathering generally include the following:

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 45 people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sirsi Marikamba Temple</span> Temple in Sirsi, Karnataka, India

Sirsi Marikamba Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Marikamba Devi, located in Sirsi, Karnataka, It is also known as Marigudi, It was built in 1688, Sirsi Shri Marikamba Devi is "elder sister" of all Marikamba Devi's in Karnataka.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haridwar Kumbh Mela</span> Mela held in Haridwar, India

Haridwar Kumbh Mela is a mela, associated with Hinduism and held in the city of Haridwar, India held every 12 years. The exact date is determined according to Hindu astrology: the Mela is held when Jupiter is in Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. The event possesses deep religious significance to Hindus as well as other spiritual seekers. Historically, it was an important commercial event and was attended by merchants from as far as Arabia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ujjain Simhastha</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha</span> Hindu religious mela

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prayag Kumbh Mela</span> Gathering or a fair held every 12 years at Prayagraj in India

The Prayag Kumbh Mela, also known as Allahabad Kumbh Mela is a mela, or religious gathering, associated with Hinduism and held in the city of Prayagraj, India, at the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati river. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tirath Singh Rawat</span> 9th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand

Tirath Singh Rawat is an Indian politician, a sitting Member of Parliament and former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. He was elected to the 17th Lok Sabha from the Garhwal constituency in the 2019 Indian general election as member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was the party chief of Bharatiya Janata Party Uttarakhand from 9 February 2013 to 31 December 2015 and former member of Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly from Chaubattakhal constituency from 2012 to 2017. He was also the first Education Minister of Uttarakhand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2019 Prayag Kumbh Mela</span> 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 Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India from 15 January to 4 March 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sibi Mela</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2016 Mahamaham</span>

2016 Mahamaham is a recurring festival most recently celebrated at Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, India from 13 February 2016 to 22 February 2016. Mahamaham, also known as Mahamagham or Mamangam, is a Hindu festival celebrated every 12 years in the Mahamaham tank in Kumbakonam.


  1. What is Difference Between Carnival and Fair
  2. Schäfer, Peter (2002). The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture. Mohr Siebeck. pp. 448–. ISBN   9783161478529 . Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  3. 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.
  4. Millions bathe at Hindu festival BBC News , January 3, 2007.
  5. Kumbh Mela pictured from space - probably the largest human gathering in history BBC News , January 26, 2001.
  6. Lewis, Karoki (2008-03-22). "Kumbh Mela: the largest pilgrimage". The Times . Archived from the original on 2010-05-29. Retrieved 2019-09-18.
  7. 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