The annual Goose Fair in Tavistock dates back to the early 12th Century, when a Michaelmas Fair held every September 29th provided the opportunity for business and animal trading, and was a social event for wives and daughters. The name Goose Fair probably came about as farmers brought their geese ready for fattening for Christmas, and the only other Goose Fair (in Nottingham) has a simiar connection.
When the new calendar was introduced in 1752 the 'loss' of 11 days changed the date of the Michaelmas Fair to October 10th, and now the Fair is held on the second Wednesday in October each year.
Market traders come from all over the country to sell their wares and provide entertainment. Stalls and side shows are set up in the centre of the Town, and some 200 spaces are let by the Town Council for traders and community groups. A further 70 spaces are let to members of the Showman's Guild in Bedford Car Park by West Devon Borough Council, and that Car Park is shut for the whole Goose Fair week. Please see below for more information on trading at Goose Fair.
The more traditional side of Goose Fair can still be found at the Tavistock Livestock Centre. They usually hold an open day where you can see cattle, sheep and Dartmoor ponies, and enjoy the auction of live geese and poultry.
See "General Medeival History" to read about the original three day fair held for Saint Rumon which coincides with todays Goosey Fair.
Source: Tavistock Town Council