At the weekend it was the Astle Park Traction Engine Rally. We have been to one of these before a couple of years back and had a great time so, as the weather was nice, we decided to head there on Sunday.
We got lucky with the weather, it was that perfect mix of being not too hot to stand in a field but nice enough to be walking around without a coat. The day before had seen some heavy downpours of rain so we made sure we had boots on as we were walking across fields.
The Traction Engine Rally has been taking place at Astle Park since the 1960s and it attracts a huge number of people. It is well set up and there is plenty to see and do to pass the weekend there if you so wish. I think you can camp overnight and the Saturday night has a firework display which I understand is one of the particular highlights of the weekend.
There are plenty of stalls to wander around, selling all manner of things, as well as fairground rides and classic fairground organs which are truly mesmorising. In the main ‘ring’ there is a timetable of events ranging from a parade of vintage tractors and cars to motorbike stunts and other acts. The grand steam parade is a must see – it is spectacular to watch all the old traction engines steaming in one by one as they circle the arena and line up. It takes about 40 minutes or so for them all to come in.
There are some spectaular machines and I can only imagine the time and effort that has gone into restoring and maintaining them. They are spectacular and it’s good fun to hear them all peep their whistles and toot their horns at the same time at the end of the parade.
We stayed a few hours but could easily have stayed longer; there was a marquee hosting a range of arts and crafts stalls and plenty of places to get a bite to eat (although we just opted to take a picnic instead).
The only thing I didn’t like was the ‘Birds of Prey Display’. I find it so distressing seeing these magnificent birds chained up on stands. I find it so peculiar that people peer and gawk at a chained up owl. Owls are nocturnal and really don’t belong on a bit of wood, with a chain around it’s foot in the middle of a nosiy field. It really is unnecessary.
We will keep a look out for the next traction engine rally – I think it’s likely to be next year now but it really was good fun and a lovely way to spend a few hours. Next year Mr H will be walking so it will be a good day to pack a large picnic and spend the day there exploring the different engines and vehicles.