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The Church at the Steam Fair

by Michael Ford last modified 03 Sep, 2019 04:11 PM

The Great Dorset Steam Fair is an institution but now so is the Church Tent.

The Church at the Steam Fair

The Revd Andrew Rowland leads a service

Each August, a new town springs up in the heart of the county and by the end there is a lively community of up to 200,000 people, everyone from steam enthusiasts to local clergy.

Everything that supports a community of this size is there, from electricity, sanitation to a water supply. There is a temporary fire service, police station, medical unit, pharmacy and of course a church - albeit in a tent.

All of life is celebrated in this temporary town. People are born and die here. There are wedding blessings, and often showmen have their remains laid to rest here.

As a Diocese we strive to have "a Christian presence in every community" and the the GDSF is no exception.

The Church Tent started as a low-key affair and was tucked away amongst the market stalls but, since its importance has been recognised, a more central location has been assigned.

The Church at the Steam Fair- inside the tent

We have dedicated followers who return every year and others that just stumble across it by accident. Every day the Church Tent holds a short service at 9am and evening prayer at 5pm for those that want it.

There is also a service of commemoration at the military display and a Sunday Directors service at The Deans.

It costs £4k each year to run the church tent and is funded mostly by donations and a small grant from the Diocese, which is gratefully received. Along with refreshments, we offer pastoral care and a welcome place to rest weary bones.

The Tent has a cheerful atmosphere with volunteers from many backgrounds, a lot are local with others that visit us and offer to help.

If you didn't get to visit this year, it will be back in August 2020.

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