Bo'ness Children's Fair Festival

The Bo'ness Fair takes place annually, generally at the end of June when the school term ends. The Fair as we know it came into being in 1897 but can trace its roots to the Mines Emancipation Act of 1779 which freed miners from the serfdom or virtual slavery under which they and their families lived. They took a holiday from work on a Friday and the Fair has been held on a Friday ever since. The earliest fairs turned into drunken parades.
In 1897 Provost George Stewart decided that the event should be child centred. A Queen, Grace Strachan, was chosen from the old Anderson Academy and over 2000 children joined the procession. Although the schools have changed the Fair has hardly altered in over 100 years.
Each primary school takes it in turn to choose the Queen and her retinue. The other schools provide fairies, flower girls and presentees. The queen is crowned at 11.00am precisely by a local dignitary, the presentees presented and afterwards the procession makes its way through the town to the Douglas Park where revels takes place presided over by the queen.
The procession also includes numerous bands. Both Bo'ness and Carriden Band and Kinneil Band play a major part in the proceedings. Decorated floats are included in the procession. Many house fronts are decorated and the Fair E'en is an important social occasion for locals as they make their way around the town to see the decorations. Originally house fronts and arches were made of vegetation and paper flowers. Today wood and panelling is the norm.
The Fair has a special place in the hearts of people brought up in the town. Many return to the town for Fair Day. At 11.00 am the Fair songs will be sung, perhaps silently, in Hong Kong, California, Australia and other far flung spots.
This year, 2020, the Fair did not take place in June due to the Covid-19 outbreak although it is hoped to have the crowning ceremony in August.
There are several books which give a history of the Fair. Among those are "Bo'ness 300 Years" and also "Bo'ness The Fair Town" both by William F Hendrie.

PhotoScanBo'ness Fair 1923.jpg

Post Card Bo'ness Children's Festival 1923 Photo R B Thom

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