> Steeleye Span > Songs > Barnet Fair

Barnet Fair

[Rick Kemp]

Barnet Fair in the London borough of Barnet is an annual horse and pleasure fair, taking place over three days starting on 4 September. It still operates under its royal charter which is issued by Barnet council. The focus in the present-day Barnet Fair is no longer on horses and other livestock; but it is rather a pleasure fair instead.

The term ‘Barnet Fair‘, normally shortened to ‘Barnet‘, has become rhyming slang for ‘hair‘.

Steeleye Span sang Rick Kemp's song Barnet Fair in 1980 on their reunion album Sails of Silver. A live recording from the Royal Opera Theatre in Adelaide, Australia, in 1982 was released in 2001 on their CD Gone to Australia.

Lyrics

Steeleye Span sing Barnet Fair

Once a year when the winter's calling
Birds fly south and the leaves are falling down
Just beyond the town, the meadow where a campfire's burning,
Wakes in the morning to the music of the big fairground

Coming from the East, coming from the West,
All the gypsies are gathering
Just another town on the road for the travelling man

Chorus:
Follow me, boys, won't you follow me to Barnet Fair?
Follow on, children, won't you follow me to Barnet Fair?
If I show you the way, will you come along today?
Everyone you know will be there
Follow me, boys, won't you follow me to Barnet Fair?

Leave the factory, leave the field
Word is abroad that the fair arrives today
Come on from the dusty loom and the rusty plough
Join the procession, I can hear it come this way

Come and see the juggler, come and see the fiddler,
See the horses and the dancing bear
Come and see the pretty lasses with the coloured ribbons in their hair

Chorus

See the magic lanterns, roundabouts and hoop-la
Prizes for the tuppenny shy
“All the fun on the fair,” you can hear the showmen cry

Chorus

Acknowledgements

Thanks to David Tomlinson for some lyrics corrections.