Lyng is a beautiful location on that rarest of things in Norfolk - a hill.
Cadders Hill, the quaintly named village of Primrose Green and Yew Tree Farm were the settings for five years for the Fantasy (1979), Sun (1980), Faerie (1981 & 1982) and Summer Dream (1983) Fairs .
I wouldn't say that they were necessarily the best but for Norvicians Lyng was quite accessible, even on your bike, although it was fairly standard to hitch a lift along the Dereham or Drayton roads and pitch in with some petrol money or entrance fee. What! Yes contrary to popular belief the Albion Fairs were not free although it was not difficult to gain entrance to any of the fairs without paying.
Lyng and Rougham were both amazingly successful fairs drawing in many thousands of visitors but they also had the shared history of evolving with the presence of the Peace Convoy. The Convoy is often blamed for the demise of the East Anglian Fairs but that stance doesn't bear a lot of scrutiny with Lyng or Rougham.
Chairman of the Norwich Alternative Arts Group who organised the fairs was Norwich antiques dealer Jon Dawson. The Lyng Faerie Fair was advertised as a gathering and celebration of all the beings that populate the world of faerie. A "city" was built on high ground which provided stages for performances from groups of actors and musicians.
In the earlier fairs there was no electricity which meant that musicians used traditional instruments to entertain and vehicles were confined to car parks around the outside of the site.
Jim Jordan, whose Yew Tree Farm was the setting for the three-day fair, said he asked members of the Peace Convoy to help because too many people were getting in without paying. He said he knew and trusted those he had asked and had no worries about the move. Jon Dawson said four members of the convoy, four stallholders and two or three friends, had been employed to help man the gates. Extra gates had been opened to cope with the Saturday rush.
"People we had employed were not efficient enough," said Mr Dawson. He thought about 20,000 attended the fair on Saturday and estimated the total attendance for the fair would exceed 80,000. Neighbouring farmers had agreed to their fields being used for parking and camping as the response to the fair in the hot, sunny weather exceeded the organisers' original hopes of 40,000. There were no reports of serious trouble and it was considered a family event. Residents had complained of stray dogs from the fair camp wandering into yards and gardens. After the official music from groups ended about 11.30pm cars and people were going up and down the roads and individuals continued to make music.
Extra ticket sellers, including members of the Peace Convoy, were employed over the weekend to cope with the rush of people at the 1983 Summer Dream Fair. Police reported few problems: "Generally speaking the atmosphere is happy and of a carnival nature" said Supt. Alan Smith of Dereham police. He said there had been only a few arrests for drug offences. "We have had some complaints about noise from residents near the site, and we are trying to do something about this." There were more than 10,000 people on the site in one day, he added.
Incubus Theatre were known for their street and festival work. In fact their time was split between these and doing plays. The company’s energy came from doing street and open air performances, along with their ‘rock and roll attitude’.
They would decide on a set of characters, choose costumes, maybe learn a couple of songs and set off for a festival, staying in character, improvising with the public for two to three days at a time. At Lyng Fairy Fair, they created a group called ‘The Goblins’ who sat in a hole drinking beer for two days, insulting everybody who came their way.
The 1983 Lyng Fair was an obvious success and the Convoy were part of that. Top musical attraction was Donovan who performed his set sitting on a straw bale. But, more than 25 groups had been performing at the fair: Ground Zero were one of the headlining acts at the Summer Dream Fair and they were joined by Nik Turner, who played saxophone, sang and wrote songs for Hawkwind. Mike Melnyk, Ground Zero's drummer roadied for Hawkwind and met all the members of the band and he renewed acquaintances with Nik at the Peaceful Green Fair in Norwich's Earlham Park. Ground Zero were on the bill and Nik asked if he could play with them and he enjoyed it. Hence Ground Zero covered Hawkwind classics "Masters of the Universe" and "Silver Machine."
Other acts included Ian Hinchcliff, the No. Two Rock Band, Julia Clifford, Jah Warrior, Half Cut, Woden's Forge, Bedside Manners and Original Mixt.
So if it was so successful why was it the last one? Rumours abound that one of the organisers ran off abroad with the proceeds of the fair. But the Albion fairs book the Sun in the East discusses the problems associated with success and the ethos of what was really wanted. Although the Peace Convoy was also blamed for the demise of some fairs this was definitely not the case for Lyng.
Brighton-based Cliffhanger Theatre Company dance with mannequins