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The 2005 schedule – which puts clear air between the neighbouring giants for the first time since the rivalry began eight years ago – follows DMG Fairs’ recent decision to alter the days of the Newark International Antiques and Collectors’ Fair. It may also force buyers and sellers to choose between the two events.

The new dates for Swinderby are as follows: January 28-30, April 1-3, June 3-5, July 29-31, October 7-9 and November 25-27. Effectively that means the fair will run from Friday to Sunday (with a Thursday setting-up day), almost a full week before Newark, which will run from Thursday to Saturday from February.

Previously the two Nottinghamshire fairs ran back-to-back and accordingly shared many exhibitors and buyers.

Swallow Fairs owner Peter Burgoin – better known among most of the 3000 exhibitors at Swinderby as Arthur Swallow – said he had been keen to avoid a head-to-head clash in choosing the New Year schedule.

“We want to offer standholders, and the marshals who work at both events, a chance to do both fairs and earn a living,” he told the Antiques Trade Gazette shortly after making the announcement on Thursday. In accordance with previous practice, new dates were issued to standholders as they entered the disused airfield for the first day of the fifth fair of the year.

Mr Burgoin expressed regret that the time gap that now exists between the two events will present a challenge to buyers (particularly those who travel from overseas) and conceded that it would no longer be possible for many to attend both events.

However, he was confident that Swinderby, established in 1996 as a ‘tailgate’ fair to Newark a few miles down the A46, was now big enough and strong enough to go it alone. “There’s absolutely no question about that, and we have been in that position for quite some time,” he said.

Although there are no plans in place to change stand fees or entrance charges to counter DMG’s cut-price offers (reported on the front page of Antiques Trade Gazette No 1659, October 9) the Derbyshire organisers of Swinderby are preparing to introduce more facilities at the venue currently known for its rather rough-and-ready amenities.

Certainly the rivalry between the two fairs has reached a new level and both sides are talking tough.

Mike Turner, marketing controller at DMG Fairs, said the calls coming into the offices at Newark had been overwhelmingly in favour of the decision to ditch the Monday-Tuesday slot for the new Thursday to Saturday dates.

“For years Swinderby have benefited from their close proximity to our fair. Now there is clean air between us and – particularly where overseas buyers are concerned – a choice will be made. The gauntlet has well and truly been laid down. With our huge marketing budget we are looking forward to attracting many more people to the Newark fair.”