April may be cold but we still have ‘Links Market weather’ to come

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Could the weather get any more miserable this Spring? Oh, hang on, the Links Market starts next week, so better keep your hat, scarf and gloves handy.

While there have been some sun-kissed trips to the shows, “market weather” is sometimes wet, often miserable, and, usually, cold. Add in a wind from the Forth and it’s only the adrenaline from spinning through the air on one of the white knuckle rides that keeps you warm.Of course, the young folk who attend will be dressed as if going out clubbing, but at 16 you are invincible, and, anyway, chillblains are for old folk.

My days of whirling round the stalls and rides at the market are long gone, but, in common with pretty much everyone in town, I’ll take a wander down to see what it’s like this year, and also partake in the annual chat which goes like this: “Och, it’s awfi’ expensive this year” and “you know, I swear it gets smaller every year.”

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Cost is relative. Everything, from the weekly shop to concert tickets, is more expensive these days. I’ve no idea how far the standard tenner would get you on a trip to Links Market in 2024 - but the walk, the sights and sounds are all free of charge, and no-one forces you to buy candy floss.

Links Market, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Links Market, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Links Market, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

The joy you can get from stoking the tipping point machines - I almost wrote ‘shove ha’penny’ then realised that’d make me sound as old as my grandad - can be offset with a wee win of coins so old you emerge with manky hands.

Sure, the mega rides are top dollar, but getting thrown 360-degrees while 180 feet in the air doesn’t come cheap - these machines are awesome!

Is the market smaller? Yes - it’s been contracting slowly but steadily for many years. It feels like there are more food stalls where there used to be side stalls, and the days when it crept round the corner past the old Stagecoach garages and nudged on to what is now Morrisons belong to a previous generation.

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But it has endured, and remains a unique Kirkcaldy thing. Ask anyone across in Edinburgh if they are going to the Links Market and they’ll probably head towards Leith Links rather than the Lang Toun. For an event which, on a good year, can pull in crowds that match T In The Park, it flies completely under the radar, with the same promotions every year and the same posters appearing around town.

But, the fact it continues underlines how much of the fabric of the town it is, even if we’re a bit ambivalent about it. “Might as well stick it on the moon for all the good it does the town centre” said one prominent figure a few years back.

And he is right in that the huge crowds which flock to the market spend there, and only there - but the town hasn’t really done much to use it as a pitch to showcase what else is happening locally, so maybe the fault is on us.

Maybe Kirkcaldy needs to be more than just a host, and look at what it can create around the market. Not everyone wants to scream and go faster, so is there is scope to bring the rest of the town centre to life while the funfair is in full flight? Or immediately after it to keep the buzz going.

Love it or loathe it, we have something incredibly special here every April – we just need to make the most of it.

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