How Covid Lockdowns Upended Carters Steam Fair

The annual Carters vintage vehicle parade through Maidenhead on Saturday drew crowds that Joby Carter, who runs the fair with his wife Georgina, estimates at 10 times the normal size as news of the funfair’s sale just came in be announced.

“Nobody [had] thought for a minute it wouldn’t be there next year,” he said. “It’s on the calendar like Christmas: you take it for granted and suddenly we announced we were going to stop doing it and people can’t believe it.”

Emotions were running high, not only in the crowds lining the streets, but also among the Carter family. “As we approached the return, there was a banner saying ‘Thank you, Carters, for all the memories’ and my wife started crying,” says Joby. “I had two women come over and I said, ‘Hello, how are you?’ and they said, ‘No.’ They were incredibly sad that part of Maidenhead’s story had come to an end.

It was Joby’s parents, show promoters John and Anna Carter, who started it all in 1977, when they purchased 1890s Jubilee Steam Gallopers that are still part of the fair today. They gradually acquired the rest of the rides from then on, saving some of the scraps and painstakingly restoring them to their original glory.

The Carters had to learn all the skills necessary to keep the heritage fair alive as they traveled the country with it, living in a 22-foot wagon.

“We are a family of artists and our canvas happens to be a fairground,” explains Joby. “I’ve never known anything different.”

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