We held our first SOCIETIES FAIR in the Ewyas Harold Memorial Hall on Sunday, 18th November 2018, 10am to 4pm.

The feedback we received indicated that the Fair was well received. Indeed, many said that they thought it was a really good success. Given that there was a good buzz around the hall throughout most of the day as people talked with each other (which was the main purpose of the event), and noting that none of the stallholders packed up early but all stayed until the very end, we were very pleased how it went. We did not get hoards of people piling through the front doors but we did not expect that. Perhaps Societies Fair 2020 will be a much bigger affair. This 2018 Fair was a First Event and we were happy with it being a modest introduction to what this Groups Initiative is about.


As shown by the following mini-poster, the Fair took the theme "SEE and BE SEEN":


"See": We hoped that people would 'save the date' and come to the Fair.
"Be Seen": We hoped that community groups would look at this web site and decide to participate in the Fair.
"in and around the Golden Valley" referred to our 'Friendship Area' and so covered most of South-West Herefordshire and part of Monmouthshire.


About 10.30am   Just after mid-day   About 3.50pm


Our objectives for this Societies Fair (our first-ever 'event') were modest, being focused on spreading word of GVGI around the region, having the hall full of stalls, getting a good number of people through the doors, and encouraging everyone to talk with each other. We made a good start on spreading the word, the hall was almost full of stalls, we do not know how many came in 'off the street' but there was a steady trickle of people throughout the day, and for most of the day there was a good buzz around the hall as people talked. Overall, therefore, we think that the Fair achieved its objectives.

Its marketing was probably the weakest aspect of the Fair. Our original plans involved Peter spending much of the Summer travelling around, telling people about GVGI and the Fair, and raising some funds through sponsorship and advertising in a brochure. However, various family/health distractions, plus other responsibilities, meant that those plans did not come to fruition. In fact, we did not start marketing the Fair until September which meant that several people had already booked-up 18th November by the time they heard about the Fair. That was not a good start. We had also intended to supplement home-produced publicity material with a professionally-produced A2 poster before the Fair and a good-looking brochure for the Fair. However, the delay in starting the campaign meant that we did not give ourselves enough time to attract any external sponsorship or advertising and so ended-up producing all of the Publicity Material ourselves, and it showed. One benefit of producing the brochure ourselves meant that we could hold back its printing to include late applicants. However, as reported on the Participation tab, even that did not enable us to avoid late changes.

We identified 2 levels of 'participation':
- those who were stallholders. They are shown in the Directory with .
- those who contributed to the Fair in some other way. They EITHER had leaflets or flyers available for distribution at the Fair OR contributed to the rolling presentation that was shown throughout the day in the Lounge at the hall - a copy of that (a 36MB file in .pptx (Powerpoint) format) may be seen here (opens on new page if you have the relevant software) - OR made a significant contribution to an article in the Brochure. They are shown in the Directory with .

The centrefold of the Brochure (see here) was prepared just a few days before the Fair but its listing of the participants included 2 groups that did not make it to the Fair at all (Care Herefordshire & Eaton Bishop Village Hall) and 2 whose appearances were limited to their contribution of a feature in the brochure (HVOSS & Community Catalysts). However, it also omitted 2 late entrants (Pontrilas Young Farmers Club and the Guides from Ewyas Harold) whilst Golden Valley Probus Club was represented at a stall rather than just providing leaflets. Furthermore, unknown to us beforehand as some people came wearing different 'hats', some of the stallholders also represented various organisations we should have identified as leaflet providers (such as Farming Community Network & Longtown WI).

On the day we had 30 stallholders: Abbeydore Ladies Guild, Abbeydore Village Hall, Black Mountains Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, Borderlands, Community First, Dore Community Transport, Ewyas Harold ("EH") Festival of Arts, EH History & Archaeology Society, EH Memorial Hall, EH Twinning Association, For People and Planet, Friends of Dore Abbey, Garway Heritage Group, Golden Valley Groups Initiative (ourselves), Golden Valley Probus Club, Guides (EH Group), Healthwatch Herefordshire, Hereford Searchers, Kilpeck Village Hall, Longtown & District Historical Society, Madley Craft Group, OWL Good Neighbour Scheme, Pontrilas Young Farmers Club, St. Michael's Hall (EH), Scouts (EH Group), U3A, Walterstone Village Hall, WEA, WI (Pontrilas & District) and WISH.

Another 17 groups contributed something to the Fair: Age UK, 'Arts Alive & Flicks in the Sticks', Community Catalysts, Ewyas Harold ("EH") Community Library, EH Methodist Church, EH Walkers, Farming Community Network, Golden Valley Bowls Club, Grosmont & District Gardening Club, Herefordshire Rural Hub, HVOSS, Koffi Pot, Let's Move!, Peterchurch Hub, Rowlestone Women's Guild, St. Michael's Hospice and WI (Longtown & District).

For the Fair we produced a brochure which may be seen here. [.docx file about 6MB, readable & printable but not changeable without the password.] To help recover some of the not-insignificant costs of printing, we charged 50p for it ... but later regretted doing so as the amount raised was not enough to compensate for the loss of publicity that we would probably have otherwise obtained. To recover from that, much of the content will be used again in later brochures.

The feedback we received on the Fair was surprisingly positive. We say "surprisingly" because its marketing had been rather low key so the turnout by Members of the Public was 'Quite Good' rather than 'Brilliant'. Nevertheless, the immediate feedback on the day was really good as there was a real 'buzz in the air' for much of the day. That the Stallholders, who had not been charged for their participation, organised a voluntary collection to help cover the costs of the Fair was particularly gratifying. The feedback received later on was also really good, particularly from those who had been stallholders at the Fair. Many of them reported not only that they had enjoyed the occasion but also that they had made useful contact with other local community groups - which, after all, was one of the main points of the Fair.

The feedback showed that it was worth doing - so we will probably hold a Societies Fair in 2020. However, we will definitely need to improve our Marketing. Hopefully, our activities before then will encourage some people to help us with that. The main other lesson learned was that people do not like to pay 50p for a home-made brochure!