Mill Road Winter Fair 2020 cancelled - but illuminated Mill Road Lanterns trail will light up in its place
Mill Road Winter Fair has been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, but a community project called Mill Road Lanterns will replace it..
The fair committee said it was impossible to know when government restrictions on large gatherings might ease, meaning it had no choice but to call off the fair, which typically attracts about 15,000 people .
Instead a display of illuminated lanterns will be created for the first two weeks of December, with an accompanying trail and an online showcase of Mill Road performers and artists.
Kate Collins, chair of the committee, said: “We are so sad to have to cancel what would have been our 16th fair. The fair has always been important to traders, performers, and the local community. It is a great way to bring people together and to celebrate this unique part of Cambridge.
“With this in mind, we will be co-ordinating a community project, Mill Road Lanterns, in what would have been the run up to the Fair to draw people to the road and to keep the spirit of the fair alight.
“This and other local community projects are funded by a new charity, Love Mill Road, and we are thrilled that this will help to make the fair more sustainable long-term.”
Mill Road Lanterns will “celebrate the identity and culture of the neighbourhood, highlighting its diversity, history and independence”, the committee said.
Residents and schoolchildren from the some of the streets off Mill Road have been putting together words and images during the summer to reflect what is special about the community.
Cambridge artist and illustrator Penny Sobr is transforming these into 10 stunning community lanterns that will be hung in shops either side of the Mill Road bridge, and illuminated for the first two weeks of December, covering the first Saturday of the month when the fair is traditionally held.
“We hope to add further lanterns to represent Mill Road streets, schools and organisations in the years to come and that the lanterns will form the core of the community parade in future fairs,” said the committee.
An illustrated Mill Road Trail will be launched at the end of November to accompany the lanterns, featuring their locations and other places of interest.
“We hope it will encourage people to come to Mill Road to explore its shops, eat in its cafés and generally soak up the special Mill Road vibe,” said the committee.
Meanwhile, Mill Road Winter Fair’s website will host Mill Road Fair Online, promoting many of the local performers, artists, organisations and charities who would have been there on the day.
The charity Love Mill Road has grown out of the fair and the legacy of the Suzy Oakes Trust.
Suzy, a champion of Mill Road, was one the founders of the fair and left money in her will to the community, which has helped the fair, the cemetery, the Mill Road History Society and others.
The charity, which can benefit from Gift Aid, helps to channel sponsorship and donations to Mill Road community projects throughout the year, including non-commercial aspects of the Winter Fair.
“We can’t replace the 2020 fair but, with the help of Love Mill Road, we can shine a spotlight on some of Mill Road’s stories, buildings, history and culture,” said the committee.
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