May Fair

The last RCAS Redland May Fair was on Monday 7th May 2018.

The May Fair was a free, not-for-profit community event and was organised by a small committee on behalf of the Redland & Cotham Amenities Society with the help of more volunteers on the day.  Every year the proceeds of a bucket collection were given to a nominated charity.

There will not be a fair on Bank Holiday Monday in 2019.

2018 – Redland May Fair – Concluding Report

In 2018 the Redland May Fair was 42 years old, and this year it was a great day and the sun shone! (see the report in the May Newsletter, No. 180). The bucket collection raised £1686 for Freewheelers, a local charity delivering vital medical supplies. Over the years, the May Fair has raised about £20,000 for charities, including funds raised by stalls.

Why has the event been discontinued? Unfortunately, the Redland May Fair has become a victim of its own success. It is no longer financially viable in current form, this year having lost £1400 (which has been covered by a contingency fund from previous years.)

In recent years costs and bureaucracy have risen substantially. This year we instituted a ‘no diesel’ policy in order to avoid numerous commercial vans running diesel engines on the green for the whole afternoon. It was noteworthy that the event took on a more community feel but obviously this step reduced stall income. Also, the wet spring further restricted the stall spaces that could be offered.

We have had increasing difficulties in dealing with the council. Parks funding policy has led to escalating licence costs and more regulation has required individual public liability insurance and risk assessments as well as increased monitoring of food health and safety regulations on the day. It has been necessary to renegotiate the cost of waste bins each year.

The popularity of the event means that traffic control has been a bigger problem and we have had to employ security personnel for longer hours. Previous generous support with signs, barriers and cones which has been supplied by Forest Traffic over ten years has now come to an end. It is noteworthy that the Redland May Fair has become very well-known across Bristol and beyond and whilst this is a testament to the quality of the event, it does mean that it has a much more commercial feel than it originally had and has ceased to have a ‘community feel’.

Communications with council officers have been slow and this has led to long email trails and frustrating delays which has obviously put more pressure on the organisers.

It is also proving more difficult to run the event on the May Bank holiday as more and more people (including organisers) tend to make family plans for that holiday weekend.

We have actively sought new membership for our May Fair Committee over recent years but our efforts have not been fruitful – we have no new volunteers. Taking all the above into account, the committee (several of who have served for over 10 years) has decided to step down.

Each member of the committee undertook a specific role in organising this annual event and had become somewhat of an expert in that field. We all agree that it has been both fun and rewarding to work together over the years and a bond of true friendship has developed amongst us.

The committee would that to give special thanks to the following organisations and individuals who have supported us over many years.

  • RCAS
  • Redland Church
  • Tennis and Bowls Clubs
  • Redland Green Community Group and the allotment holders
  • Redland Green School and Bristol Grammar School
  • Our local councillors
  • All our stall holders, suppliers and entertainers
  • And all our hardworking volunteers

We have given some thought to the future. We do of course still have Redland Green, so let’s use it! Various equipment (stakes, rope, bunting, litter pickers, gloves, steward jackets etc.) is available to pass on to any new team.

RCAS itself would support a similar non-commercial event which could start on a smaller scale, and be easier to manage and less costly. We think refreshments should be restricted to the Church Halls and the tennis and bowls clubs. It might be possible to change the day in order to free up the May bank holiday weekend.

The now retired May Fair committee is of course, very willing to advise any new group who may wish to restart an event on Redland Green. Some interest has already been shown in these approaches. More news will follow on this if there is any new initiative.


The last RCAS Redland May Fair 2018 was on Monday 7th May 2018.

The Redland May Fair was a hugely popular local event held on Redland Green on the first May Bank Holiday each year.

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