Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville helped Milland Rural Fair celebrate its 20th anniversary yesterday.
The television and stage actor, who lives in the area, revealed he had been a regular visitor to the fair every year since it started in 1996.
Fair spokesman Philip Watts said: “He is well known here and he opened the community shop in 2011 when I was chairman. He was quite happy to open the fair, too.
“It was a wonderful day. We had about 3,000 people visiting and about 150 people from the village were involved in organising on the day.
“The arena programme was delivered as planned and we had far more stalls than last time, the idea being to get it across that it is a rural event rather than a commercial country fair.
“There was a very good atmosphere. It is at the end of half-term and the ideal thing for families to do before the children go back to school, and it is very good value.”
It is the area’s biggest rural events, including a non-stop event programme in the main ring, a large number of woodland and rural craft demonstrations and lots of animals to meet and touch.
There was a vintage tractor parade featuring various models from the last 60 years, Pony Club mounted games, Hawkwalk’s birds of prey, a gundog display by Reedland Retrievers, Clinkard Beagles and a display of horses through history, showing how horses were trained for combat in medieval times.
The rural fair, at Milland Recreation Field, in Iping Road, Milland, is organised entirely by a group of village volunteers to give visitors an enjoyable day and to help the village’s many community groups, in particular Milland News, the village paper.
Jeremy Hobson, an author of country books who first had the idea for the fair 20 years ago, returned to help with the commentary this year.
He used to live in the village but moved to France and has not been involved for about ten years.
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