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24 September 2014
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Voices: Turning words into action
Image of a man climbing the greasy pole Poles apart

The Corby Pole Fair is held once every 20 years and Irene Sherratt has been to the last three! Here she tells us about her memories and the appeal of the fair.
Hamtastic! The lucky winner grabs the ham

Watch a slideshow and listen to Irene talking about her memories of the Corby Pole Fair. ('5"46, Real 56k).

The Corby Pole Fair dates back to the 13th Century and holds on to many strange traditions. Two poles are present at the fair, but it's not clear if that's where the name came from.

The greasy pole is, not surprisingly, a greasy pole with a prize ham at the top. The aim is to clamber up it and grab the ham. The second pole is known as the 'stang'. 'Riding the Stang' was a punishment for men who had committed minor offences. They were carried through the town astride the pole as insults and missiles were thrown.

For the one day of the fair, roads into Corby Village are blocked and a toll, or a 'coin of the realm', is demanded on entrance. Pubs open at 6am for the opening ceremony which involves the vicar reading aloud the Town's Charter, before being carried, along with the eldest village resident, to the other side of the village for the second reading. All of these quirky traditions are still upheld which makes The Corby Pole Fair truly unique.

Irene Sherratt's first experience of the pole fair was in 1962 having recently moved to the village. In 1982 she was the vice chairman of the Pole Fair and in 2002 was a member of the committee.

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