First Great Dorset Steam Fair in 1968!

First Great Dorset Steam Fair in 1968!

The Great Dorset Steam Fair, which takes place from Wednesday 28 August to Sunday 1 September in Tarrant Hinton, is celebrating its 45th anniversary!

The 45th year is forecast to be the busiest yet, even after the 5-day event attracted a record 60,000 visitors on its busiest day last year. In celebration of this landmark occasion, organizers have released images taken at the first ever Great Dorset Steam Fair in 1968.

Martin Oliver, the Managing Director of the Great Dorset Steam Fair and son of the late Michael Oliver who founded the event, said: “I don’t think anyone could have predicted the huge scale the fair has become today, especially as it grew in popularity gradually year on year, but Dad always knew it would be successful.

“Back at Shaftesbury in 1968 the show enjoyed 2,000 visitors. This quickly grew to 50,000, and now the show regularly attracts over 200,000 people. It’s amazing to think that these days the show has 25,000 people camping on site at any one time – that’s the population of a sizeable town!”

It is estimated that the event is worth approximately £21.3m to the economy of Dorset and the wider region, and creates £7m of additional tourism consumer expenditure for Dorset; i.e. expenditure by staying visitors from outside the area that would probably not have arisen had the Fair not been held, according to a 2005 Economic Impact Study Survey conducted by The Market Research Group.

The show, which this year will cost around £2m to stage, couldn’t run without its section leaders, site managers and an army of helpers. In total there are around 300 people working at the event including the casual labour that collect litter and man campsites. A group of non-executive directors make up the Great Dorset Steam Fair’s committee and work all year round to ensure each event is better than the last.

Organisers are very proud to be the ‘National Heritage Show’, presenting the Britain of yester-year. One of the main selling points is that a lot of exhibits are shown in the way that they were used years ago working in their natural environment.

The Great Dorset Steam Fair is a typically British event offering a unique blend of nostalgia and entertainment. The World’s largest heritage and cultural event showcases our national industrial, agricultural and leisure history. There is no other event like this anywhere in the world which is why hundreds of thousands of visitors attend each year from both the UK and abroad.

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