Hello, Goodbye, Strawberry Fair

Strawberry Fair has come and gone.

It has the feel of an ancient institution, a medieval fair, but is in reality only forty years old. And in fact, when you think of it, what it really has is the feel of a 1970s institution, with its easy-going, counter-cultural, mildly drug-addled nature.

Strawberry Fair emerged from a May Day festival, set up by the self-styled Mayday Group in 1974, and was initially intended to rival the College May Balls  (held in June, obviously). It was to be a festival set up by Cambridge residents for Cambridge residents, of arts, music, food and general summer fun.

Over the years, however, it developed a strong local and also national profile as a music festival, with some reasonably big-name acts featuring on the various stages set up around Midsummer Common. And in recent years, it seems, it started to attract a reputation for freely available drugs, which sadly but inevitably interested the police (as, to be fair, it had from its inception in 1974) and led to trouble of one sort or another in 2009, with nearly 400 arrests, mostly for possession of cannabis. In 2010 there was no festival but a lot of deliberation, and when the festival returned in 2011 it was in a guise that its progenitors would have recognised – more local, more family-oriented, less worried about reputation.

In this short Q&A video, the chairman of the Festival Committee in 2010 outlines for a lively and interested crowd what the festival was going to look like (the video includes a few clips from the 1977 Strawberry Fair).


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