CIRENCESTER'S first modern day Fleece Fayre celebrated the town's history of the wool trade.

The event, hosted by Cirencester Town Council in partnership with Abbey 900, took place yesterday from 10am to 5pm in Market Place, Cirencester.

The event was officially opened by The Earl and Countess of Bathurst, who pulled apart either end of a roll of fleece.

There were performances by community dance groups including Cirencester Creative Dance Academy, Stroud & Gloucestershire Morris Dancers and May Pole dancing with participation from the crowd and the mayor Mark Harris.

The day featured a special wool themed fleece market attended by local spinners, weavers, knitters and crafts people, a felt making workshop hosted by New Brewery Arts, garland making by the Churn Project using locally foraged materials, interactive sheep themed games and creative crafts.

The Royal Agricultural University’s Student Union hosted the town’s stocks where students happily obliged as members of the public hurled wet sponges at them and where they took families on a hare spotting tractor tour of the Abbey Grounds.

Other highlights included Punch and Judy, juggling workshops, a colouring competition and medieval storytelling in the parish church.

The event was broadcast on local radio and TV.

Cllr Harris, mayor of Cirencester, who judged a sheep themed colouring competition and the May King and Queen Crown Competition, said “We will now do this every year. 

"It was a huge community event with thousands of people from all sections of our community and visitors from afar coming to the new Market Place to celebrate a traditional country holiday.”

Corinne Lamus, chair of the Abbey 900 Steering Group, said: "I was thrilled that Cirencester buzzed on Monday, May 1 as it might have done in medieval times when the original Fleece Fairs were held after the great Abbey flocks were sheared and the event was such a success, the town council are proposing it as an annual event – one of the first legacies of the Abbey 900 year.

"The town council did a great job in 'project championing' the Fair on Abbey 900’s behalf and I would like to extend profuse thanks to them and to our own army of volunteers (festival ambassadors) who all worked so hard to bring a wonderful fun day to Cirencester."

St John the Baptist Parish Church, located in the Market Place was largely rebuilt in the period between 1515 and 1530.

This was funded by the wealth attained by the local wool merchants.