Some British fairs, such as St Giles Fair in Oxford and the Goose Fair in Nottingham, date back hundreds of years. They are travelling fairs that occupy part of a town centre for a few days each year. The people who run the fairs usually live in caravans. Originally, animals were sold at these fairs and people could change employers there. The Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria still has animals, but most fairs now consist only of mechanical rides and amusements. They are especially popular with children and young people and some holiday towns, for example Blackpool, have permanent fairgrounds. In modern times a number of theme parks, such as Alton Towers, have also been developed, in which the rides are based on particular ideas or themes.
  Some fairs in the US also have long histories. State and county fairs held at the end of summer were important in the days when transport was limited and most Americans were farmers living far from the nearest town. They provided an opportunity to see friends, buy supplies and look at the latest farm equipment. People entered their best animals in competitions and afterwards sold them. Today there are also competitions for crops, e.g. the sweetest corn, and for home crafts like baking and sewing. The winner of the first prize gets a blue ribbon. In Britain, competitions like these take place at village horticultural shows and agricultural shows, such as the Royal Show. Many Americans who are not farmers go to fairs for other kinds of entertainment. There is a midway, a large area with different kinds of rides and games, and an area where ice cream, pies and candy (BrE sweets) are sold. The US also has permanent amusement parks or theme parks, which have rides like those at British fairs.
  Fairs and amusement parks in Britain and the US typically include rides such as merry-go-rounds or carousels, shooting galleries, where people can win small prizes by shooting at targets, and stalls selling traditional food such as candy floss (AmE cotton candy; pink spun sugar on a stick), toffee apples (AmE candy apples; apples coated in a boiled sugar mixture) and hot dogs (= sausages in bread rolls). Many have a Ferris wheel, also called a big wheel, bumper cars (BrE also dodgems; small cars in which people crash into each other), a helter-skelter (= a tall, circular slide), and a roller coaster or big dipper (= a steep track on which people ride in special cars). There is often a ‘dark ride’ or ghost train (= a ride in the dark past things that jump out or make a frightening noise).
  In Britain and the US other events are sometimes called fairs. At craft fairs (AmE arts and crafts fairs) people sell things they have made, e.g. pottery, jewellery, candles and leather goods. But trade fairs are large events where business companies show their products and make new contacts.

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Universalium. 2010.

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