Steaming up for 2008
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is 40. To celebrate the organisers are promising the 200,000 visitors expected, the best event to date. BBC Dorset has been finding out what's in store at the Tarrant Hinton showground.
Steam may be an old fashioned way to get around but in the 21st century it is as popular as ever with more enthusiasts coming every year.
The theme for the 40th birthday event is distinctly old-fashioned as the organisers will be trying to recreate the very first steam fair which was called "The Great Workings of Steam Engines". It is hoped that many of the exhibits which were on display at the first show will be returning to Tarrant Hinton near Blandford.
Steam-powered fairground ride
World class collection
The show hosts probably the largest collection of steam engines in the world. Previous years have seen 200 working steam engines, 100 fairground organs and around 2,000 other working exhibits including vintage tractors, vintage cars and motorcycles and army vehicles.
The serious steam-minded will be able to visit the first ever restoration marquee where owners of vintage steam-powered vehicles can receive advice about how to restore and maintain them.
One of the highlights of the event is the old time steam funfair. More than 50 engines, with their gleaming brass, generate the light and power for the carousels and swingboats. It's a spectacular sight, particularly at night.
The rural theme is never far away. This year the country arena will host sheep-dog trials, steam power threshing, steam ploughing, steam wood sawing and steam road rolling.
It's not just all things steam which are on show. The entertainment side of the show has grown over the years which means the facilities for the performers have needed to be upgraded. This year's show will see the opening of a new concert pavilion and a charge for those wanting to see the top acts.
Names booked include tribute bands Bootleg Beatles, Queen act - the Bohemians and Too Rex and Bon Giovi. There's also more traditional music on offer from closer to home - the Stour Valley Brass Band, the Wareham Whalers - a sea shanty choir and State of Undress who describe themselves as a "folk-rocky rootsy" band.
One very popular act which won't be appearing is the Wurzels.
Travelling to the fair
The show attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year from both the UK and abroad. It is also very popular with the traveller community. In recent years a special temporary campsite has been set up for the duration of the show and the same is happening again in 2008.
Some residents have objected but Dorset County Council said that setting up a temporary facility, is the only way to stop illegal encampments during the fair.
In the lead up to the event the roads often become very busy, not least because of the large number of steam-powered vehicles making their way to the showground, well below the speed limit.
For those who are getting there using more up to date transport, the advice is take your time and try not to get steamed up, if you find yourself behind a slow moving vehicle!
Great Dorset Steam Fair August 27-31, 2008
last updated: 29/08/2008 at 17:48
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