01 December 2015
Uttoxeter Race Course - 1st November 2015
The new South Staffs Militaria Fair, Uttoxeter Race Course - 1st November 2015
A new fair came into town - organised by Steve Brindley from SB Militaria, who is certainly no new kid on the block when it comes to collecting. Steve’s passionate interest in all things WWII Normandy is legendary, both in the UK and on the continent and he is no stranger to getting his shoulder to the wheel when it comes to trading and organising. So having known Steve for a good few years now, I was only mildly surprised when he mentioned the idea of a new militaria fair for the Midlands.
“You are coming to my new fair aren’t you?” he asked me… “it’s going to be fab… I’ve got this great new venue at Uttoxeter, at the race course - it’s awesome - I couldn’t have wished for better. It’s got everything… fabulous layout, flat loading, on-site cash machine, great cafe, and the bookings manager there is really really keen. Dead interested… it’s got so much potential... and why don’t YOU stand? (that’s me he’s talking to). See what it’s like from the other side of the table for a change”. “OK”- I told him, “I’ve got some stuff to sell - I’ll give it a go”.
So I came… from Bury, Lancashire
I set off very early, missed a couple of junctions because of the early morning thick fog, and finally managed to find my way, partly via map-nav (old school, I know) and also by tagging onto the back of another dealer I recognised. He didn’t realise it was me that was following so closely and was quite relieved to find it was a friend (not foe) that had been clinging onto his rear fog light through every stop, twist and turn. Finally arriving at 6.50am I found I wasn’t the early bird I thought I was. A number of dealers had well and truly beaten me to it - some having set up from the day before.
I saw… a great first impression
Steve certainly didn’t speak with forked tongue about one of the great temples of horse racing. As I drove through the entrance, waved on with a warm welcome from Steve’s missus, Diane, with de rigour hi-viz, I could sense the excitement and atmosphere of a race day, as if it was somehow encapsulated by the fog, unable to drift away. I have attended fairs up and down the country for a good few years now and I have to say that this first impression certainly counted.
I conquered… got back home with more money than I left with
Steve was so right… sitting behind the table opened up a whole new experience, and for me it was certainly worthwhile. There were a good many customers coming in throughout the day, in fact they were still coming in at half-past one - a totally alien concept at some fairs I have been to. And what a great atmosphere… there were military vehicles parked up outside the entrance, their uniformed crew only too happy to engage in conversation with inquisitive onlookers - and to demonstrate the air raid siren, time after time…
I must confess that I wasn’t at all sure a new fair would work out. But do you know what... I saw dealers there I have never seen before in the Midlands and I saw customers I have never seen before. So the South Staffs Militaria Fairs has brought a freshness to the county that I didn’t expect. And if you are wondering was it really so successful for a first time event - just ask how many of the dealers there said they would love to come to the next one. Let’s put it the other way round - only one said he couldn’t.