At this year’s Masham Steam Fair

NARG110717 Masham Steam Fair.Wendy Dawes with her 1902 Marshall Compound 12 ton traction engine.  (110717AM7)

NARG110717 Masham Steam Fair.Wendy Dawes with her 1902 Marshall Compound 12 ton traction engine. (110717AM7)

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Masham’s famous traction engine rally is steaming ahead despite bad weather and financial problems threatening to drown this year’s event.

The 47th Masham Steam Engine and Fair Organ Rally is to take place on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, at Marfields, Leyburn Road. Organisers had worried that with weeks of heavy rain the land would be too wet to cope with the heavy vehicles and influx of visitors the fair brings.

But after last minute inspection, organiser Flo Grainger said the fair was still set to go ahead.

“We are alright as yet. The fields are quite high and gravelly based, so we are OK to go ahead as yet,” she said.

The rally already looked under threat as poor weather at last year’s event ledto poor attendances and a loss on £4,500.

“Unfortunately last year’s inclement weather left us a little out of pocket and whilst the year before we had no site for some time, this year we had insufficient funds to confidently risk staging another event.

“We endured an autumn and winter with an uncertain future, but undaunted by this we set about drastically reducing our budget and raising funds in order to continue to run our beloved rally,” Mrs Grainger said.

The steam rally committee turned to regular exhibitors and local residents and businesses for help in raising funds to stage this year’s event.

Exhibitors agreed to a cut in the expenses they receive for attended the fair, and several local businesses and groups, including Theakston’s Brewery, Masham Parish Council, and the town’s Bonfire Committee, who all gave cash donations to help the rally go ahead.

They also staged fundraising events, including a market square party in May, to help raise the funds needed.

The Masham Steam Rally ran for the first time in 1965, and was founded as a fundraising venture for Masham’s Town Hall, which reaches its centenary next year.

The rally has run every year since at three different venues around Masham, and last year moved to its current home on Leyburn Road, close to its first ever site.

A Masham Town Hall Community Charity was formed to run the hall earlier this year, and the group is hoping to start a refurbishment of the upper hall, in time for centenary celebrations in 2013.