Feasts & Fairs

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blackprince
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Feasts & Fairs

Post by blackprince »

The photos of "Holbeck Feast" ( on another current thread) made me realise that I haven't heard the word "feast" in that context for a very long time. Does anyone know why we called a travelling fair a feast in Leeds? I suspect it is only used in Leeds and maybe a bit wider in W Yorks. Certainly in E Yorks they talk about Hull Fair. Maybe there is a link to the german word "fest" as in "Oktoberfest". A feast conjures up images of hog roasts and swilling ale rather than candy floss and dodgem cars.

I never went to Holbeck feast . The ones I remember from 1950s childhood were in Harehills on waste ground behind Compton Road library and off Lupton Avenue next to the Nowells. Also on Woodhouse Moor I think. Were there lots of these travelling fairs back in the day or was it the same one coming back every year and just moving around different parts of Leeds before moving on to the next city?
Has the tradition died out or do they still visit Leeds?
It used to be said that the statue of the Black Prince had been placed in City Square , near the station, pointing South to tell all the southerners who've just got off the train to b****r off back down south!

jma
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by jma »

I've never heard the word "feast" used in this way except in Leeds, but I believe it originates from the Latin festum which is a holiday. Remember that holiday comes from holy + day originating long before holidays as we think of them today. eg Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen. The old name for Boxing Day.

The equivalent French word is fête ond the circumflex accent indicates the word used to have a letter "s".

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tyke bhoy
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by tyke bhoy »

@JMA as in feste? Sorry for being thick but the use of the accent to represent that was unknown to me and you didn't specify how
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tyke bhoy
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by tyke bhoy »

@blackprince I'm pretty certain the local Outwood fair is known as a feast (Augist Bank Holiday w/e) but as my signature says it isn't that far from the current Leeds boundary.

There was a feast on Woodhouse Moor a couple of weeks ago. It always seemed to me that they coincided with bank holidays but there wouldn't have been enough operators to be everywhere on BHs and they must have been operational elsewhere for most of the rest of the year.
living a stones throw from the Leeds MDC border at Lofthousehttp://tykebhoy.wordpress.com/

jma
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by jma »

tyke bhoy wrote:
Thu 03 Jun, 2021 8:47 pm
@JMA as in feste? Sorry for being thick but the use of the accent to represent that was unknown to me and you didn't specify how
Yes. I don't know the details of the shift from the Latin festum, but over time the "s" became silent and was eventually dropped. One of the functions of some accents in French is similar to an apostrophe in English when it represents an omission.

dogduke
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by dogduke »

The Harehills feast was on the site of the former Compton Arms pub for many years.
It was all set to open to the public last year but the council ordered them not to open due to the Covid19 restrictions.
Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.90% of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at.

jma
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by jma »

Back to the OP, there is a national organisation

https://showmensguild.co.uk/

I only know that because they have a regional office in Drighlington. There is a travellers' site, just down Whitehall Road from Drig at the former Cockersdale branch of Drighlington Co-op. Until quite recently, the big lorries associated with fairgrounds used to have a base there, but more recently it just seems to be travellers there.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.76253 ... 384!8i8192

One thing that seems to have changed over the years is dropping the animals, presumably through changing attitudes to their welfare. The feasts I remember from my childhood had a circus. I particularly remember going to what will probably have been Woodhouse Moor during the daytime and there was a giraffe in a double-decker bus with its head sticking out of an upstairs window. I think health and safety must have played a part in the disappearance of some of the rides.

I remember feasts on Armley Moor (just off Armley Town Street) and on Bramley Park. We used to live on Westover Road which runs down one side of Bramley Park. The feast there was usually held at the bottom of the park, just off Bramley Town Street. In1984, when my father had terminal cancer and was bed-bound in a room overlooking the park, the usual pitch was waterlogged so the feast moved up the park so he had all the fun of the fair, including the loud music only yards away till late at night.

In recent years I've seen feasts advertised including one on Wakefield Road at Tingley on the land opposite Blackgates School.

On the subject of French spelling I mentioned I've found this, which includes fête as an example:
Most often, it indicates the historical deletion of an adjacent letter (usually an s or a vowel): château < castel, fête < feste, sûr < seur, dîner < disner
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_orthography

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blackprince
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Re: Feasts & Fairs

Post by blackprince »

Hi,
Dogduke: The Compton Arms was a going concern when I lived there but the feast was held on waste ground between the pub and the library.
jma: I never knew the reason for the French circumflex either. Maybe we should have continued using the leading apostrophe in 'bus :)
You were handy for the tennis courts on Bramley park and the baths, both of which I used a lot in school holidays in my teens. I must have seen the feast in Bramley but don't recall it as well as the one in Harehills.
Thanks guys for your replies, informative as ever.
-BP
It used to be said that the statue of the Black Prince had been placed in City Square , near the station, pointing South to tell all the southerners who've just got off the train to b****r off back down south!

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