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Nottingham Goose Fair

[ Roud V3585 ; trad.]

Roy Palmer's printed The Rigs and Fun of Nottingham Goose Fair in his 1974 book of songs of social change 1770 to 1914, A Touch on the Times. He cited Margaret Baker, Discovering English Fairs (Tring: Shire Publications, 1968):

The most famous Goose fair in England was, and is, at Nottingham, held on the first Thursday in October and for the two following days. Not a single goose is to be seen today but at one time 20,000 geese were driven slowly to the fair by the goose-herds, often taking weeks on the journey and stopping to feed on the way and wearing, it is said, tar and sand shoes to protect their feet.

This fair once lasted three weeks, for in 1283 a charter granted a right to hold a fortnight's fair in addition to the already established week-long Goose Fair. Both were held in the magnificent Market Place on 5 1/2 acres. The fair is now held in the Forest Recreation Ground named after the nearby Forest of Sherwood. Since 1874 the fair has been opened by printed notice rather than proclamation.

Fiddler's Dram with Cathy Lesurf recorded Nottingham Goose Fair in 1978 for their Dingle's album To See the Play, leaving out Palmer's second verse.

Andy Turner got the words of Nottingham Goose Fair from Roy Palmer's book. He sang it as the October 1, 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Roy Palmer's The Rigs and Fun of Nottingham Goose Fair

Ye lads and lasses spruce and gay, attend unto my song,
I hope you will not think it short, nor yet so very long;
It's of the rigs and fancy prigs you'll meet with I declare
If you'll but sport an hour or two at Nottingham Goose Fair.

Chorus (after each verse):
Then haste away, make no delay, to Nottingham repair,
And if you're fond of fun and glee you'll find it at the fair.

Let people talk of time so hard, of starving and the like,
They'll find if to the fair they'll come they are mistaken quite;
Here they may cram with beef and ham till their belly's like a drum,
And swig such ale that ne'er can fail to send them rolling home.

Then see what mountains of fine cheese are piled upon the ground,
And geese with cackling music so sweetly sing all round;
And sucking pigs and turkeys invite the hungry elf,
Crying, “Come and buy, and then pray try if you can't please yourself.”

When evening draws the curtain and bids the day goodbye,
Why then unto the alehouses the lads and lasses fly;
And there you'll find unto your mind what ne'er was known to fail:
The joy inspiring tankard, boys, or far-famed Nottingham Ale.

But still one caution let me give, you'll like me none the worse,
There's friendship in't if I just hint, keep an eye upon your purse;
For there are blades of memory short, full plenty in the town,
May pop their fingers in your fob and think it was their own.

So to conclude if come you will, our fair's rare sport to see;
Enjoy your joke, laugh, drink and smoke, but keep good company;
In moderation pleasure take, you're welcome to your share,
You'll not regret you came, my boys, to Nottingham Goose Fair.

Fiddler's Dram sing Nottingham Goose Fair

Ye lads and lasses spruce and gay, attend unto my song,
I hope you will not think it is short, nor yet so very long;
It's of the rigs and fancy prigs you'll meet with I declare
If you'll but sport an hour or two at Nottingham Goose Fair.

Chorus (after each verse):
Then haste away, make no delay, to Nottingham repair,
And if you're fond of fun and glee you'll find it at the fair.

Then see what mountains of fine cheese are piled upon the ground,
And geese with cackling music so sweetly sing all around;
And sucking pigs and turkeys invite the hungry elf,
Crying, “Come and buy, and then pray try if you can't please yourself.”

When evening draws the curtain and bids the day goodbye,
Why then unto the alehouse the lads and the lasses do fly;
There you may find unto your mind what ne'er was known to fail:
The joy inspiring tankard, boys, or far-famed Nottingham Ale.

But still one caution let me give, you'll like me none the worse,
There's friendship in't if I just hint, keep an eye upon your purse;
For there are blades of memory short, full plenty in the town,
May pop their fingers in your fob and swear it was their own.

So to conclude if come you will, our fair's rare sport to see;
Enjoy your joke, laugh, drink and smoke, but keep good company;
In moderation pleasure take, you're welcome to your share,
You'll not regret you came, my boys, to Nottingham Goose Fair.