THE ALLOA FAIR was once the biggest event on the Clackmannanshire calendar.

The evening before the main fair, the West End Park in Alloa was adorned with oil lanterns while the stalls glittered with tinsel.

Showmen shouted their usual "step up, step up" to attract customers to their rides, while the shooting galleries were one of the most popular attractions.

The streets of the town were deserted as almost everyone in the town headed to the park.

The following day, trains brought in more visitors, but some headed up to Hawkhill to watch the sports.

As early as the Sunday afternoon, caravans arrived in the park to set up their entertainments.

No-one was allowed into the park until the following morning when many young folk who had been at the flower show at Gartmorn appeared, curious at their new neighbours.

It fell to the likes of William Brown, the burgh customs man, to allocate each showman with his own spot in the park and the booths were arranged in groups, such as shooting galleries, swing boats, hobby horses, merry-go-rounds, and so on.

This meant people interested in a particular part of the shows could simply go to that area of the park.

Organs could be heard playing and one of the attractions during Victorian times was the Queen's waxworks.

Dogs and monkeys performed, the fat lady and hairy man were popular, the high trapeze and gymnastics were performed, and there was a fortune teller.

On one occasion the smallest husband and wife in the world appeared at the Fair. There were also donkeys rides for the children.

Among the stands were the sweet stands, which did a roaring trade, along with lemonade and ginger beer stands. These eventually expanded into the streets of the town. There were also beer tents, with many making good use of them.

On the Thursday, most of the shops in Alloa were closed, and many businesses had shut until the following Monday morning to allow their employees to have some time off, enjoy themselves, and rejuvenate so they would be productive on their return.

People flocked to the fair from all parts of Clackmannanshire and at times the town was made impassable to traffic due to the thronging crowds.

Not everyone was happy with the noise emanating from the fair but for many businesses in Mill Street and High Street who decided to stay open, they did a bumper trade over the three days of the Alloa Fair.