Organisers of the annual Links Market in Kirkcaldy insist the funfair is here to stay amid suggestions this year’s event could be the busiest in years.
At least 25,000 people a day are expected to visit the Esplanade to enjoy the thrills and spills of the longest street fair in Europe right through until Monday night, although unseasonably mild and dry conditions forecast could potentially swell numbers significantly.
There have concerns about the market’s longer-term outlook in recent years, with developments planned at either end of the Esplanade.
Billy Hammond, chairman of the Scottish Showmen’s Guild, believes the future remains bright.
“Since I was a boy, all showmen look forward to coming to Kirkcaldy,” he said.
“The showmen come from all over Britain just for this and it’s unusual to see the weather like this – it puts everybody in a better mood.
“Obviously there are going to be developments over the coming years which are going to squeeze us in, but we adapt and move with the times.
“We’ve changed over the years and if you came here 40 years ago, you wouldn’t recognise it today.
“So as far as I know the Links Market is safe for the foreseeable future and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone.”
His sentiments were echoed at Wednesday’s opening ceremony by John Culine MBE, president of the Showmen’s Guild, who thanked Fife Council forwelcoming the market to Kirkcaldy,
“It’s a fantastic fair, it’s more than 700 years old, and the Showmen don’t seem to have aged every time we’ve been coming,” he joked.
Visitors have already started the usual grumbles about pricing, but Mr Culine told those who were having their first look at this year’s attractions: “The equipment is first class – don’t complain about the prices on the rides because they have to be paid for.
“They’ve got to make a living as well and it is a difficult business in these hard times in any case, but we want to thank the people of Kirkcaldy for allowing it and turning out to help keep it going.”
The Links Market, which reputedly started back in 1304, is over a mile long and boasts more than 40 adult rides and more than 100 kids’ rides.
Provost Jim Leishman performed the ribbon cutting ceremony to signal this year’s market officially open, before braving the Mexican Wave ride along with Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance.
“I enjoy it when I go on, but when I come off I always ask myself: ‘Should I have done that?’” he added afterwards.
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“But it’s a pleasure being in Kirkcaldy and it’s a special thing for the people of Fife.
“What I like about it is the pleasure you get walking along the Links Market – the kids are smiling, they are happy and they are having a go on the shows.
“The Showmen are hard-working people, work long hours and work hard to give people enjoyment, so it’s great to see so many people turning out.”
Road closures on the Esplanade will be in place until 4pm on Wednesday April 25, and police have urged those attending to keep themselves and their belongings safe.
Inspector Joanne McEwan, from Fife’s Police Division, said: “We will not tolerate any criminal or anti-social behaviour and will act swiftly to tackle any such incidents should they arise.”