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Great Dorset Steam Fair Begins *Updated

by Michael Ford last modified 05 Sep, 2012 10:16 AM

Church Tent organisers prepare for mission and appeal for help as the world’s leading steam fair begins.

Great Dorset Steam Fair Begins *Updated

Aerial view of the Fair. Photo: Martin Cooper

The Great Dorset Steam Fair takes place Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September this year and is the world’s leading show of its type.

The enormous showground covers over 600 acres and is one of Europe's largest outdoor event locations. More than 250,000 people will visit this ‘new town’ over the five days, spending over £16 million.

The Fair has its own restaurants and pubs; a fairground; a Fire Department, Police Station and St John’s Ambulance Unit; electricity, sanitation and water supply. There are over 3,000 Exhibitors or Traders.

The Church of England website boasts of “A Christian presence in every community” and the Great Dorset Steam Fair is no exception.

The newly-appointed Director of the Chaplaincy and Welfare Team is the Revd Dr Michael Foster, Rector of the Chase Benefice in which the Steam Fair takes place. The Co-Chaplain is the Revd Andrew Rowland, Vicar of West Moors.

Both have a keen interest in steam, with Andrew having a small gauge steam train and track in his garden and Michael having worked for British Railways before he became a Priest.

There is a daily Communion Service each morning in the Church Tent, with one of the Chaplaincy Team leading the Service.

Church Tent
The Chaplaincy and the Church Tent work together. Beth Buchan, a Lay Pastoral Assistant, manages the Tent while the Fair is on.

Those serving in the Tent provide prayer for those who need it. Welfare help includes reuniting lost family members; hospitality includes supplying thousands of cups of coffee or tea. The Show last year saw over 3,000 visit the Church Tent: the highest number to date.

On the last day, there is a very public act of worship on one of the Steam Organ Stages, with the Director and staff of the Fair present, and a VIP Guest preacher.

Appeal for help
The Church Tent and Chaplaincy are run by volunteers: no expenses are paid. This year, in addition to the £2,500 basic running costs, the Committee needs to find at least an additional £800. Any money donated goes towards running costs or future mission work.

Cheques should be made payable to ‘Chase Benefices Expenses Fund’, and sent to Lt Col. Tim Smith, 5 South Farm Close, Tarrant Hinton, Dorset, DT11 8JY.

According to a piece in the Dorset Echo, there were around 200,000 visitors, despite poor weather conditions

Great Dorset Steam Fair website 
‘Chaplains’ page 
'Lay Pastoral Assistants' page

Further information
Contact the Revd Dr Michael Foster:, 01258 830764




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