Working hard to have a fun fair

Published: Friday, 6th September 2019

St. Giles’ Fair might be one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country - but there is much work that goes unseen which brings the tradition to life for Oxford.

Planning the fair

Since January the City Council’s events team has been co-ordinating the arrangements for the fair including liaising with Showmen’s Guild, the emergency services and the County Council to bring together the plan for this year’s fair. This year, road works on diversion routes have set an extra challenge for the team, but this week all the work is coming together for the fair to set up on Sunday.

The events team organises the fair on behalf of the city and is responsible for all the arrangements to make the fair a success - from taking bids from the different showmen who want to attend and arranging the layout of the rides to working with all the local businesses who are affected by the fair.

Specialist teams

Oxford Direct Services (ODS) is contracted by the events team to take care of preparations for the fair. ODS deploys a range of specialist teams to ensure the set-up is done safely with minimal risk to the public and environment.

The ODS Parks team deploy their tree specialists to make sure that no trees are damaged in the set up and that all rides can operate at a safe distance from branches.

The Highways and Engineering teams remove street furniture  and assist with the planning of the road closures and diversion routes and ensure clear signage is in-place. Cyclists parking in St Giles will find bike racks in the fair area closed from Saturday to make more room for rides and stalls.

ODS Commercial Waste team delivers 20 recycling and waste containers prior to the fair and empties them daily, retrieving them after the fair has come to an end whilst also ensuring that the normal day to day business operations of city centre businesses remain unaffected.

The Streetscene team, which cleans the streets, will be making sure the roads and pavements are clear during and after the fair. They will be emptying bins and litter picking from 5am till midnight on both Monday 9 and Tuesday 10. On Wednesday morning the Streetscene team and their machines will start work at 4am to ensure St. Giles’ is fit for business as usual on Wednesday 11.

While the fair is running, the City Council has contracted additional security and medical teams to support the smooth running of the fair


“St Giles Fair is an annual fixture in Oxford’s calendar, but it’s easy to forget how much work goes in to making these two days a fantastic event for everyone who attends. Our events team works closely with the Showmen’s Guild for months on the planning, alongside the County Council, the emergency services and Oxford Direct Services. The last few days are a flurry of activity behind the scenes, and thanks to their hard work we can look forward to another fantastic fair next week.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre


 “We really enjoy contributing to events such as St. Giles’ Fair and May Morning that are part of the living tradition of Oxford. We have a great range of specialists teams that we can bring together for a major event like this, meaning we’re able to provide a one-stop-shop to support the fair. Most of the work is unseen, and that’s how it should be so that everyone can focus on the fun.”

Simon Howick, Managing Director at ODS