Beaming travellers flood to sleepy Cotswold town after 500-year-old horse festival cancelled last year over Covid fears

BEAMING travellers flooded a sleepy Cotswold town for a 500-year-old horse festival today.

Hundreds flocked to the biannual Stow Horse Fair in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, after it was cancelled twice last year over Covid fears.

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Romany carriages rolled into the chocolate box town this morning, with stalls selling items everything from catapults to chickens.

Horses were paraded and bought at the event, which is usually held every May and October.

Today's wet weather made for slippery conditions, with the main walkway thick with mud.

But the crowds donned their wellies and raincoats – with some even going barefoot – and looked to be having a ball.

Dotted among the 4x4s and horse boxes were signs of traditional caravans, brightly painted in greens and reds with details picked out in gold.

Hundreds packed into the field from all over Britain to enjoy the fun.

There appeared to be little social distancing and mask-wearing by punters, despite lockdown restrictions still being in place.

But the event was deemed Covid safe due to the "extremely low infection rates", the Safety Advisory Group concluded.

It said the popular event did not pose a health risk to the community, with a counsil spokesperson adding: "Covid regulations can only be used to legally stop an event going ahead if there is deemed to be a significant and imminent risk to public health and the use of the legislation would be a proportionate step to take.

"Based on the information provided by the organisers and extremely low infection rates there is insufficient evidence to warrant action under the regulations."

It was a huge relief to travellers as the fair is considered one of the biggest events in the Gypsy and traveller calendar.

Travellers have thronged to the fair since the 15th century, when wool was the area's main industry and sheep were sold on the town's common.

Both 2020 events were cancelled due to soaring Covid rates and deaths at the time.

Police said the decision was made in line with government advice about "avoiding large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic".

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