Nov 19, 2013
The annual fair is Europe's largest gathering of gypsies and travellers. It is also one of the oldest fairs in England, occurring every June since 1685, when King James II granted a royal charter permitting a horse fair "near to the River Eden" in Cumbria; an estimated 10,000 English and Welsh gypsies, Irish travellers, and Scottish gypsy/travellers assemble for the fair to buy and sell horses and catch up with friends and relatives.
In recent years, the gypsies are joined by about 30,000 non-travellers (muggles?) who travel to Appleby to see the gypsies and their horses.
"Appleby Horse Fair is not an organised event," warns a local government publication aimed at potential tourists. "There is no set programme for anything happening. The horses are washed and trotted up and down the flashing lane.
"There is a market on Jimmy Winter's field selling a variety of goods–some traditional to the gypsy/travelling community–and other. To arrange to sell on that field, please contact Jimmy Winter....
"There is no horse auction. Sale arrangements are made buyer to seller for cash. The price will usually include extra for Luck Money."
Tourists are also warned that accommodations in the vicinity during fair week will be "rarer than hen's teeth. If you have a tent, however, you may be able to camp at Holme Farm Field. Speak to Mrs. Bousfield."