Doubts over future of giant Sunderland funfair as the Hoppings returns to Newcastle

The giant North East Funfair taking shape at Herrington Country Park last year
The giant North East Funfair taking shape at Herrington Country Park last year
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THE future of Sunderland’s massive summer funfair is uncertain today after reports a deal has been hammered out to see the return of the Hoppings to Newcastle.

A massive event, billed as the “North East’s largest funfair”, was held at Herrington Country Park last June.

It featured around 100 attractions and came about after a dispute between funfair body The Showmen’s Guild and the Freemen of Newcastle, who took over responsibility for organising the Hoppings in 2012.

Citing disagreements, including location of pitches, rent hikes and pricing of attractions, Guild members voted unanimously to declare the event “out of order”, meaning they would not participate for the foreseeable future.

Members of the guild then approached Sunderland City Council about the possibility of staging an event on Wearside.

Thousands of people visited the fair during its 10-day stay at Herrington and co-organiser Colin Noble told the Echo that he and his associates were hopeful of repeating the event in 2014.

“Overall, it’s been a success,” he said. “A lot of people have come on both Saturdays and it’s been very busy.

“I think we would like to go again next year, definitely.

“Whether it will be the same dates or if it’s in the summer holidays, I don’t know yet, but it’s something we will look at.”

But whether that will now happen is unclear, after reports that the Showmen’s Guild and the Freemen of Newcastle have reached an agreement which will see the The Hoppings return to Tyneside this summer.

The fair will be held on Newcastle’s Town Moor after a lunchtime meeting yesterday saw 135 showmen vote in favour of a return.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, chairman of the Freemen, said: “It will be good news for the North East.

“We are keen as organisers of the fairground to progress with maintaining and ensuring that the fairground offer to the public is attractive and is a boost to the local economy.”

Showmen’s Guild chairman Glenn Miller added: “All issues that had come up have come to an amicable conclusion.

“All parties are satisfied. It was put forward to the members at the meeting to vote to lift the out-of-order ban and it was unanimous to bring it back.”

This year’s Newcastle fair will start on June 20 at 1.30pm and run until June 28.