As reported on our news pages this week, Arthur Swallow Fairs has announced a change in the format of its antiques and home fairs held at the Lincolnshire Showground.
In 2019, instead of six two-day midweek fairs, the organisers will run four one-day midweek events.
These will run on a Wednesday, one day ahead of IACF’s two-day antiques and collectors’ fairs at the Newark Showground, thus giving buyers a straight run of three full days at both fairs.
This story does raise a wider question of whether, in a tight antiques economy, the one-day format for the large UK fairs may be a way forward in the future. ATG has gauged reaction from other organisers.
A load to do
Alan Cartwright of Jaguar Fairs, who runs two regular antiques fairs at Wetherby and Nottingham Racecourses, said: “I would not change my two-day fairs format.
“My stallholders would not entertain standing for just one day as they have such a lot of stock to unload and repack.
“The second day gives them all a second bite of the cherry.”
Although Peterborough Antiques Festival is a biannual two-day event run at the East of England Showground, CEO Simon Evans said he would not consider changing to a one day festival. He added: “At our September festival we were still admitting new paying public at 3.45pm on the second day.
“We had to encourage stallholders to start packing away as there was still so much trading going on in some parts of the fair well into the evening.
“We recognise that many of our exhibitors travel huge distances to stand at Peterborough and the whole travelling and setting up/breaking down is an exhausting process.
“So we try to provide the footfall to enable them to stay trading as long as possible to ensure it is a profitable and worthwhile experience for them.”
Evans said the festival has managed to hold stallholder prices static in some of the areas for 2019 and will not be increasing visitors’ ticket prices again this year – “which for early trading on Friday and the full-day Saturday entry has not seen an increase for the past eight years”.
IACF’s managing director Will Thomas said: “We are very happy that Newark continues to be the UK’s biggest antiques fair, attracting buyers from all over the world, and it remains the global networking venue for antiques professionals in the UK.”