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Findon Sheep Fair and Village Festival

Each year during the second weekend in September, the Findon Sheep Fair and Village Festival takes place at Nepcote Green. This is a popular local event with up to 7000 visitors attending on the Saturday.

There are craft stalls, sheep displays, sheep judging, a funfair, food stalls, and many other displays and attractions on the green.

There is a sheep judging show which attracts farmers with their sheep from across the south of England, and judges countrywide. 

Admission is free on the Saturday. On the Friday and Saturday evening there are dances in the marquee which are ticket only entry.

For more information, check out the Sheep Fair website by clicking here

Here is a clip featuring the Findon Sheep Fair from the 1980's;

  

The history of the Sheep Fair

An annual three day fair was allowed by Charter, in Findon, as long ago as 1261. By 1650 this had become a one day sale on Holy Thursday.

The Sheep Fair proper was started by George Holford on Nepcote Green sometime before 1785. A lamb sale was held on 12th July followed by The Great Fair, always held on 14th September. Previously the sheep had been sold by private deals and the first auction sales started in 1896.

From 1925 sheep were driven in large flocks over the downs to Steyning train station for delivery but this stopped when the Steyning line was closed in the 1960's. Gradually lorries took over and sheep are no longer delivered on foot in the traditional way.

In 1940 the fair was moved by order of the War Office. It was transported by the traction engines of the Harris Fun-Fair to West Grinstead. The Harris family are still running the fair today.

There have been many changes since the fair's return to Findon, after the war. In the 1950's the date was altered to the second Saturday in September and in 1971 the July lamb sale was discontinued. Auctioneers changed to Hanleys of Heathfield and then to Lambert & Foster from Kent. Chestnut hurdles, which had replaced oak, were themselves replaced by more hygienic metal ones.

Most dramatically the breed of sheep, which used to be almost all Southdown's, were over time replaced with other breeds until in recent times very few Southdown sheep are sold and the most popular rams are Suffolk's.

The Sheep Fair today

Sadly the traditional Sheep Auction will not take place in the foreseeable future. Auctioneers find it less and less financially viable in a climate of strict regulation and changed marketing practices. In addition the numbers of sheep auctioned at the fair were reduced over the years from more than 15,000 to 3,000. 

The sheep judging competitions introduced in 2010 continue to grow with currently over 300 entries in all competitions.  Findon Sheep Fair is becoming one of the top attractions for showing in the South of England. Since 2007 there have been over 35 different breeds of sheep on Nepcote Green, and that figure rises each year.

It is very encouraging to see so many young people bringing their own sheep as they are the future farmers in farming and showing. Each year the Sheep Fair link link up with the Findon School to give up to 12 children the opportunity to be involved in the Young Handler competition.

This long running fair could not continue without the dedication of the volunteers who tirelessly muck in (no pun intended!) each year. 

THE SHEEP FAIR AT A GLANCE:

 

 

Findon Sheep Fair and Village Festival

Each year during the second weekend in September, the Findon Sheep Fair and Village Festival takes place at Nepcote Green. This is a popular local event with up to 7000 visitors attending on the Saturday.

There are craft stalls, sheep displays, sheep judging, a funfair, food stalls, and many other displays and attractions on the green.

There is a sheep judging show which attracts farmers with their sheep from across the south of England, and judges countrywide. 

Admission is free on the Saturday. On the Friday and Saturday evening there are dances in the marquee which are ticket only entry.

For more information, check out the Sheep Fair website by clicking here

Here is a clip featuring the Findon Sheep Fair from the 1980's;

  

The history of the Sheep Fair

An annual three day fair was allowed by Charter, in Findon, as long ago as 1261. By 1650 this had become a one day sale on Holy Thursday.

The Sheep Fair proper was started by George Holford on Nepcote Green sometime before 1785. A lamb sale was held on 12th July followed by The Great Fair, always held on 14th September. Previously the sheep had been sold by private deals and the first auction sales started in 1896.

From 1925 sheep were driven in large flocks over the downs to Steyning train station for delivery but this stopped when the Steyning line was closed in the 1960's. Gradually lorries took over and sheep are no longer delivered on foot in the traditional way.

In 1940 the fair was moved by order of the War Office. It was transported by the traction engines of the Harris Fun-Fair to West Grinstead. The Harris family are still running the fair today.

There have been many changes since the fair's return to Findon, after the war. In the 1950's the date was altered to the second Saturday in September and in 1971 the July lamb sale was discontinued. Auctioneers changed to Hanleys of Heathfield and then to Lambert & Foster from Kent. Chestnut hurdles, which had replaced oak, were themselves replaced by more hygienic metal ones.

Most dramatically the breed of sheep, which used to be almost all Southdown's, were over time replaced with other breeds until in recent times very few Southdown sheep are sold and the most popular rams are Suffolk's.

The Sheep Fair today

Sadly the traditional Sheep Auction will not take place in the foreseeable future. Auctioneers find it less and less financially viable in a climate of strict regulation and changed marketing practices. In addition the numbers of sheep auctioned at the fair were reduced over the years from more than 15,000 to 3,000. 

The sheep judging competitions introduced in 2010 continue to grow with currently over 300 entries in all competitions.  Findon Sheep Fair is becoming one of the top attractions for showing in the South of England. Since 2007 there have been over 35 different breeds of sheep on Nepcote Green, and that figure rises each year.

It is very encouraging to see so many young people bringing their own sheep as they are the future farmers in farming and showing. Each year the Sheep Fair link link up with the Findon School to give up to 12 children the opportunity to be involved in the Young Handler competition.

This long running fair could not continue without the dedication of the volunteers who tirelessly muck in (no pun intended!) each year. 

THE SHEEP FAIR AT A GLANCE: