Ten things you may not know about the fair

  1. The first Downton Cuckoo Fair was officially recorded in 1530 when a cuckoo was let into the village and fairs continued to be held until just after the First World War. The Cuckoo Fair was resurrected in 1979 marking the arrival of the cuckoo and the coming of summer.
  2. The Cuckoo Fair is non-profit making and run entirely by local volunteers, who meet over nine months prior to the day to ensure it runs smoothly. The main aim of the Fair is to provide a fun village event which includes live entertainment whilst also enabling local organisations to raise funds for their own use.
  3. It is estimated that since 1980 in excess of £1 million has been raised by local organisations which take part and this has created a very important annual source of income for them.
  4. In 2022, it cost just over £38,000 to hold the Fair. Major costs included medical cover, park and ride mini buses, advertising, portaloo provision, marquee hire, entertainment, security, insurance and post Fair cleaning.
  5. In 2022, the Fair had an income of just under £38,000. The major source of revenue came from the stallholders (75%) and car parking (12%). Donations, advertisers, souvenir sales and marquee hire made up the remainder.
  6. Since 2013, costs have increased by 27% but income has only risen by 8%. This discrepancy has been driven mainly by new Health and Safety regulations, Wiltshire Council Event Management requirements as well as increased insurance and marquee costs.
  7. The Fair is heavily dependent on donations from the significant local fundraisers and other organisations who benefit from the Fair to cover the costs. Any profits generated are either ploughed back into the running of the next Fair or donated to local causes. Past donations have included the Scanner Appeal, the commissioning of the Memorial Gardens gates and the Sea Cadets for a new defibrillator. The Downton Christmas tree and lights are also donated to the village by the Cuckoo Fair.
  8. A Cuckoo Fair princess is chosen each year and she must either live within the Parish boundary or attend a local school. There used to be a Cuckoo Fair Prince who became a Cuckoo Fair King the next year but difficulties with recruitment meant that this didn’t last.
  9. The Committee is always seeking new local people to join them in managing the Fair. Some members of the Committee have been serving since 1979 so they would love to welcome some younger members! Contact Chairman, Tony Pike, on 01725 511332 for details.
  10. The Cuckoo Fair by numbers: 20,000 people attend on the day; 8,000 promotional leaflets are distributed to tourist outlets; 4,000 programmes are distributed on the day; 2,750 car parking spaces are provided which in turn raise funds for local organisations; 250 stallholders to browse; 40 feet tall Maypole is erected; 20 Maypole Dancers to watch; 15 different Entertainers to enjoy; 2 Cuckoo Fair attendants; 1 Cuckoo Fair Princess is crowned.


For more information about the Fair have a look at History, Who Delivers the Fair and Supporting Local Organisations.