Village Fetes

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Otherwise known as Village Fairs1, Village Fetes are places where the various groups within the village2 put on stalls, selling things, offering games with prizes and trying to extract as much money as possible from the punters as possible.

Below are a list of some of the more common - and some more uncommon events at village fetes.

Coconut Shies

Coconut Shies allow the punter to test their skill at hitting coconuts3with wooden balls. If they manage to knock one or more coconuts off their stands, they then recieve those coconuts.

The act of giving someone a coconut which they have just damaged does seem a little dubious, but these hardy fruits are ideal for this competition.

Plate Smashing

Almost certainly not invented in ancient Greece, the same wooden balls as the Coconut Shy are used to smash plates into smithereens. A wonderful way of releasing pent-up emotion4, sometimes the highest scores win a prize, but the act of imagining your worst enemies face on the plate as it breaks up under the force of the ball is very rewarding. However, care has to be taken on the part of the organisers, as unglazed plates must be used to reduce the risk of shards of pottery flying everywhere.

Wet Sponge Throwing

A very popular stall, this allows people the opportunity to throw wet sponges at someone they supposedly like. Accuracy is important, as all the body is protected, leaving only the face exposed. This pulls crowds of school children in, especially if a teacher happens to put themselves in the firing line.

Bran Tub / Lucky Dip

A large bin is filled to the brim with sawdust or some other filling, with objects placed into the sawdust - either the actual prizes, if they are small and wrapped up, or markers such as snooker balls to denote different prizes. The customers then put their hand into the tub, and supposedly pull out the first thing they touch: it is considered highly unsporting to attempt to identify what you are touching.

Cowpat Bingo, or Spot the Plop

A game of chance and skill, restricted to rural areas, and using several tonnes of prime British beef, which is definately still on the bone. A cow is placed in a small area, divided into squares. These squares are purchased by people, and they win if the cow deficates in their area. Any 'liquids' that the cow may produce are not considered - only a solid waste counts.

For further information into this rewarding rural pasttime, see Cow Pattie Bingo.

Hook-a-Duck

A game usually for the younger members of the family, small plastic ducks or boats are placed in a bath of water. The players then have to 'hook a duck' using a piece of bamboo with an eyelet in the end: the ducks all have hooks on their backs. Sometimes a small prize is given, other times the number painted on the bottom of the duck determines whether you have won or not.

Roll a penny

More often than not, two or ten pence pieces are used5, which are rolled down ramps onto a grid with amounts of money painted on. If your coin lands entirely within a square, you win the amount of money on that square. If, however, any part of the coin overlaps a line6, you lose. There is always lots more space available in the square than the coin needs, but somehow you always seem to lose...

Spin the Arrow

Another highly entertaining game, which can be played for any prize, and in a number of different ways. The board is a disc with an arrow, which is spun.

If one person is playing, they pick a number. If the arrow points at that number, they have won the prize. If more than one person is playing, then they wait until all the numbers have been taken, and the arrow is spun again. This means that someone is guaranteed to win the prize each time.

Tombolas

There are different ways of running a tombola - numbered tickets, or playing cards, but the important part is that you pick a card or ticket out, and some certain tickets or cards (such as Honours7 or tickets ending in -5 or -0) win, with 'better' numbers or cards (such as the Ace of Spades or 1000) winning bigger prizes.

It is often believed that at many village fetes the ticket or card which wins the large prize (often a large cuddly toy or bottle of whisky) is kept to one side for the larger part of the fete, ensuring that there is a large prize that people believe they can win.

Beat the Buzz

A challenging test of skill, in which people attempt to negotiate a long piece of wire with a handle which has an eye around the wire. If the handle touches the wire at any point, then the machine buzzes loudly, and you have lost. Sometimes you are allowed three lives, other times you may only get one try. It takes a great deal of determination and a very steady hand to complete the course.

Other Sideshows

Often the fete organisers will arrange other events for people to look at, in an attempt to make the fete appear more than it actually is.

Marching Bands

Occasionally provided courtesy of the Army, Navy or RAF cadets, who may put up a recruitment caravan; or a non-military troupe, these people march up and down to music. The non-military ones are better - rather than purely being a display of disipline, these often use more popular songs and more complex movements. And also are more expensive.

School Country Dancing

The bane of many a rural schoolchilds life is dancing in a country dancing display. One of the problems is the inequitity between numbers of boys and girls, leading to some of the boys having to wear the yellow sashes which are intended to denote the 'girls' in the dances. These dances usually involve dancing repetitive movements8 which usually involves the 'top couple' changing (everyone moves up and down during the dance), throwing your partner around at a fast rate, and having to remember whether or not the boys or girls have to cross their arms9.

Motor Vehicles.

Displays of motoring heritage are always popular at fetes, and not only with the organisers - it allows the drivers to have a day out and see the rest of the group, and people to look at some of the wonderful cars made yesteryear.10

Sales of Fresh Produce.

Often some groups make cakes, jams, preserves, tarts and all manner of delicacies for consumption. Many of these will be made to certain secret recipes, only known to a certain ancient villager who will probably take the secret with her to the grave.

Beer Festivals.

Sometimes the organisers work with the local pub to create a larger event - often involving a beer tent, tens of guest beers and hundreds of drunk people. While this might not be the ideal situation for a village fete, it certainly rakes in the cash for both landlord and local groups at the fete.

1or faires, for those who like the olde worlde style2and some from outside3hard, brown, large, tropical fruit, which deserve a guide entry due to their delicious milk and white innards 4but probably not as good as 'Wet Sponge Throwing' - see below5due to inflation, I'm afraid6not nessacerily going into another square7Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces and Jokers8sounds much like any other form of dancing9the 'boys' are supposed to cross their arms10Somehow, I don't think a Ford Focus will ever be a car that is considered a classic.

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