EUROPE’S largest travelling funfair could be coming to Sunderland.
Travelling showmen, who are blaming organisers for the cancellation of the annual Newcastle funfair, are understood to be interested in a move to Sunderland.
The Echo understands Sunderland City Council has been approached about staging the event in Sunderland, with Herrington Country Park mooted as a potential venue.
A dispute between the Showmen’s Guild, whose colourful attractions illuminate the city’s Town Moor each year, and the Freemen of Newcastle, who took over organisation in 2012, has led the showmen to opt out of the event.
Citing numerous disagreements, including location of pitches, rent hikes and pricing of attractions, members of the Guild voted unanimously to declare the event “out of order”, meaning they will not participate in the funfair for the foreseeable future.
Now it is believed some showmen have expressed an interest in bringing the event, which has been postponed this year due to ground conditions, to Herrington Country Park, in Sunderland.
The rumours have been fuelled by a local TV news report and internet chatrooms.
It is understood some showmen have approached Sunderland Council over a potential move.
However, David Wilson, vice chairman of the steward committee of the Freeman, said: “As far as we are concerned, The Hoppings is not moving to Sunderland.
“There is another fair going to Sunderland, but that has nothing to do with The Hoppings.”
The Hoppings was set up in 1882 and has been hosted in Newcastle every year since, with the exception of the years between 1913 and 1924.
In 1913, the Freeman refused to give permission for the fair due to the state of the Town Moor, and the funfair did not return for over a decade. The Hoppings has since grown into the biggest travelling funfair in Europe, and celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2012.
The Hoppings has been continually blighted by poor weather in recent years, and last year ran only for a few days because heavy rain waterlogged the field.
Newcastle Council cancelled the event for this year, which had been scheduled for June, because the moor is still damaged – but said it hoped it could be held later in the year.
The council said it was a difficult decision to put the event on hold.