Celebrate traditional skills in a digital age at Carters Steam Fair’s Signwriting Festival

7 August, 2019

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Come and join us for a weekend of celebrating the traditional art of signwriting alongside our beautiful vintage funfair and help us smash last year’s total of £10,000 raised for the Alexander Devine children’s hospice.

On the 21st and 22nd of September when the fair is in Pedestal Field, West Wycombe, we’ll be combining the fair with a Signwriting Festival, a public event to celebrate and promote hand-painting, and to give you the opportunity to see professional signwriters and hand-letterers at work and learn more about the craft.

Our fairground is entirely hand-painted, from our large rides and fleet of lorries, down to the smallest of components. We use traditional techniques and styles to bring the rides back to life so they look just like they did when they were new. These traditional skills have been under pressure over the last few decades with the rise of computers and the increase in use of plastic and vinyl. Fairground owner Joby Carter completed an apprenticeship in the art of signwriting when he was younger, and he has been passionate about encouraging others to keep the skills alive ever since. With so many children growing up with smartphones and tablets at their disposal we think it’s more important than ever to showcase and share these traditional skills.

What happens at the Signwriting Festival?

We’ll be inviting a group of signwriters to the fair called the ‘Letterheads’ who are based all over the world. They will be painting different signs and items on the Friday and Saturday in the ‘Grand Palace of Entertainment’ a fantastic old-school freak show tent.
Some of the signwriters will be working outside on the fair (weather permitting), so you can chat with them and ask them questions while you watch them work.

What’s happening on Saturday?

If you fancy hearing about the fairground artwork on the attractions at Carters Steam Fair then you can join fairground owner Joby Carter on the Saturday morning at 11am as he will be conducting a Fairground Art and Heritage Tour around the fair, its £5 per person which also gets donated to the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice.

Throughout the day we will also be offering small tours around the Grand Palace of Entertainment so you can see the signwriters in action in return for a small donation.

Carters Steam Fair will be open from 1pm to 11pm, it’s free entry to the fairground and there will be a free award-winning firework display after dusk.

Throughout the day there will also be additional family-friendly activities including a ‘fancy lettering treasure hunt’ around the fair. We are keen to encourage children and young people to get hands-on at a variety of lettering and art workshops. Some of the activities will be free, and some will have a small charge which will also go to charity.

What’s happening on Sunday?

On Sunday morning at 10am we will be holding a fun charity auction where we will auction off the hand-painted items to the highest bidders and all the money raised will go to the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice.

After that, you’re welcome to have some fun on the fair which will open at 1pm until 8pm. There will be some additional family-friendly activities on Sunday too, we’ll share more information on our Facebook page nearer the event.

Who will be painting at the Signwriting Festival?

For many years the Letterheads collective of signwriters and painters have been meeting up to paint together, share techniques and tricks, stories and advice, and have a great time while they do it. The group was originally set up to celebrate and promote the art of hand-painted signs and to pass down this dying art during a time when computers and plastic were threatening the trade. Now, thankfully, there is a resurgence in interest in the beauty and skill of this hand-painted work, and there are more and more young signwriters working around the world. Many of these people will be coming along to the Signwriting Festival at Carters Steam Fair.

If you know anyone that is a traditional signwriter that would like to come along they can find out more on our website. https://www.carterssteamfair.co.uk/learning/signwriting-festival/
We also offer courses in signwriting and fairground art during the winter months when the fair returns to our Yard in White Waltham, Maidenhead.

How much does it cost to come to the Signwriting Festival?

The fair and the festival are open to the public on Saturday and Sunday and are free for the public to attend.

The Fairground Art and Heritage tour on Saturday morning is £5 per person.

We will also be offering small tours around the Grand Palace of Entertainment throughout the day on Saturday so you can see the signwriters in action in return for a small donation.

We’d love you to come along to the charity auction on Sunday morning too, have some money (cash or card) ready to invest in a unique piece of hand-painted artwork! In previous years the signs have had all different slogans or sayings and they make lovely gifts or decorations for the home as they are truly one of a kind.

If you want to go on any rides at the fair then you’ll need to buy some ride tokens. You can get your ride tokens when you visit the fair (cash or card) but the best value deals are online when you book in advance. For more information on ride prices and tokens see here.

We hope to see you at the fair and at the festival and that together we can raise over £10,000 for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice!

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