Speed Reads

Horsing Around

Here's what one of the world's oldest Gypsy fairs looks like

Here's what one of the world's oldest Gypsy fairs looks like

Once a year, thousands of members of the Romany, Gypsy, and Travelling communities descend on the quiet English town of Appleby. There, they pitch tents, park RVs, visit with old friends, and occasionally enrage the local townsfolk over charges of "drink-related disorder" and "anti-social behavior."

Hey, this is an only-once-a-year event, you know?

The merriment and mess is merely the backdrop for a festival dating back to 1685. King James II granted a charter of protection to the Appleby Horse Fair, and nearly 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers still use the annual event to buy and sell horses. The largest fair of its kind in Europe, it features a week-long string of viewings and biddings. Horse owners perform a traditional bathing of their charges in the nearby Eden River; once the horses are washed and groomed, traders send them galloping down the "mad mile" to show off their speed to potential buyers.

Below, images from a centuries-old tradition that has withstood the test of time. --Sarah Eberspacher

(Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

(Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

(Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)