Who's Who at the 18th Century Fair

The Social Outcasts: At all the fairs across England outrageous human acts were met with extreme anticipation. Men without legs were fitted into a stuffed horse and presented as Centaurs. Similarly, people with birth defects, missing limbs, and hermaphrodites were some of the most popular public attractions at the fairs [1].

Businessmen/Entrepreneurs: The fairs main purpose was business. Lasting two to six weeks, businessmen would set up their booths at the fair selling everything from wool to servants. The most lucrative type of business at the fair was entertainment. People flocked to everything from rope dancers to 8 feet tall women, and a large sum was paid to see these types of entertainment at the fair.

Pickpockets: Pickpockets were as abundant at the fairs as the whores that seemed to line the streets. They were easily distinguishable to some because aside from the vendors they were the only people at the fairs everyday. Crime ran rampant at the fairs and consequently riots erupted frequently.

The Military: A display of the King's power, the military in all its regal was always positioned at all the major fairs. Although, they did little to stop crime or rioting, they seemed to be a constant reminder to the citizens of the power of the government. Ironically, just as the military would march through the streets of England's largest fairs, crime and corruption ran rampant just underneath their noses [2] .

The Young Social Middle Class: Fairs were central to the courtship process. Often women would meet their suitors at Fairs and men would use fairs as an opportunity to covet women. The fairs were a large social gathering offering young singles a chance to meet. Unlike assemblies or balls that charged admission and consequently were places of courtship for only the middle and upper class, the fairs offered all social classes an opportunity to meet others.

If only we could all look this good!  Ahhh, courtship!

As you can see the fairs attracted everyone from the gentry to their servants.
If you are a single female, you better fluff your dress and if you are a single man, I suggest you adjust your breeches and coat because you never know whom you are going to meet. The fairs were a popular place to meet people and where sexuality was displayed with ease.


Next Stop: Sexual Experiences at the Fair!!


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