Burntisland Shows: Heatwave brings crowds flocking to town’s Links
Showmen are looking forward to two more bumper weeks on Burntisland Links before heading on to their next town.
The traditional summer fair has been a big hit with visitors as it returned for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
It operated under COVID restrictions with zones created to manage numbers, and the Showmens’ Guild said it was delighted with the response.
The fair was limited to a six-week run which continues until Sunday, August 15.
But the heatwave brought visitors out in good number each day, with appeals to people to use public transport to avoid adding to the parking issues in the town.
The guild also worked with NHS Fife to ensure it operated safely.
Dr Duncan Fortescue-Webb, consultant in public health medicine, said: “While the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities remains relatively high at present, we are not aware at this stage of any cases of the virus with clear links to suggest transmission at Burntisland Fair.
“Over a number of weeks, we have been working alongside Fife Council’s environmental health service to ensure the fair is operating in a safe manner, with the appropriate measures in place to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.”
Richard Wilmott, licence holder for the Burntisland Shows, said the guild’s members were delighted to get back on the road - and back operating after a prolonged lay-off.
They faced a setback in April when the event was cancelled before discussions allowed it to go ahead as restrictions eased.
“It has gone very well,” said Mr Wilmott. “The crowds have been great and I can’t recall the last time we had such great weather for such a long spell.
“The showmen were all delighted to get out and what what they have been doing all their lives.
“And people have been looking to get out and about too after so long. It has been good to see them out in force.”
The influx of more people into town has raised concerns over social distancing - and problems with litter and parking.
But, Louise Humpington, owner of Grain and Sustain, aid: “I recognise the considerable efforts of the show vendors to keep the rides clean and sanitised, but without a control on the numbers entering the area it hasn’t been possible to insist on 1m distancing.
“The additional footfall has been a huge boost for some businesses, but resulted in a considerable decrease in turnover for others as regular shoppers from the town and those who might ordinarily travel in chose to stay away.
“It’s very much a mixed bag and there is definitely no one sized fits all response.”
Those concerns were highlighted by local councillor, Kathleen Leslie.
She welcomed the benefits the shows brought in increased visitor numbers.
But she added: “Parking has continued to be an issue but I know the council, along with the police where relevant, have been working hard to resolve this.
“I would urge visitors to observe parking restrictions and use public transport where possible.
“The toilet facilities - or the inadequacy of them- also need to be urgently addressed going forward. There are simply not sufficient toilets to cater for the large number of visitors. I was particularly concerned about the poor state of the disabled toilets.”
There was also a call to learn from the issues raised in the town by local butcher, Tom Courts.
He said: “The return of the shows has certainly brought visitors to the town and a welcome boost to the local economy, particularly the hospitality type businesses who suffered most during lockdown.
“Parking and litter has been an issue on the busier days and hopefully lessons can be learned for next year.
“All in all I feel a sense of normality returning and hopefully that continues.”
Raina Miller, owner of Burntisland's Burger Island, said: “It’s been fantastic to have the shows back again.
"Yes Burntisland High Street is thriving in general but it’s been fantastic to see how many more visitors it’s brought to the town and the High Street has definitely benefited from this.
"The parking was a bit of an issue the first weekend as no one expected the volume of visitors that we had, but after that, the showmen and Fife Council had more signs out telling people where to park and there were more litter pickers to help with the litter."
She added: "It’s been great to have a bit of normality again and Burntisland has been buzzing.”