Written by Rita Thomas (nee Poole), reprinted with grateful thanks from the 150 th Anniversary special booklet.
In 1957, I worked at the shop, James Stores. In the village there were plans being made to get the Harvest Home started again. My boss, Mr Leslie Dibble, got involved with this, although he had not lived in the village when the Harvest Home was last held.
I heard the talk but couldn't imagine what a Harvest Home was like; but anything happening in a village in 1957 had to be worth a try. My first job was to sell centenary programmes at 6d each. This meant a half day off work, which was great! I got more involved as the years went by, doing all sorts of jobs, laying tables, washing china, trimming ivy ropes, flowers for the high table, making hoops and banners. For example:- 'many hands make light work', 'eat, drink and be merry', ‘make hay while the sun shines', 'the best in the west', '1973 the year of the tree' and many others.
Pre 1957 the Harvest Home was held near the church and vicarage, but from 1957 we were in Brown's ground, near the Knoll Inn, and about twenty years ago we moved to our present ground at the top of Jarvis Lane on the A370 near the war memorial. With the fair being housed in the top half of the adjoining field belonging to Somerset County Council.
We try to keep the event as traditional as possible but have also streamlined some jobs to make use of modern ways to save time. It is still a traditional feast day which starts with a church service at St Mary's followed by lunch in the marquee which includes the procession of 90 Christmas puddings, a 120lb cheddar cheese and a 6' x 2' harvest loaf. The ladies carry the puddings to the marquee from the village hall and the men carry the bread and cheese.
The lunch is followed by the toast to 'agriculture and kindred industries' proposed by a guest speaker and someone else replies. A second toast is made to 'the visitors and helpers' and a response to this. The prizes for decorated hoops and baskets are then awarded followed by an auction of any surplus food.
During the afternoon, tea is served, and there is a fancy dress competition followed by sports, so quite a busy day. In the evening we have various bands, a disco, licensed bar, funfair etc.
During the last 50 years I have always been helping at the Harvest Home, doing more some years than others. For the past 19 years I have been joint secretary, responsible for booking equipment, speakers, buying goods and generally helping to get the show on the road.
Looking back over the last 50 years I am proud we have been able to keep this tradition alive and hope it will continue for many more years.
So from a 20 year old shop girl, I have seen many changes. I am now a wife, mother and grandmother and shortly to celebrate my 70th birthday; but the Harvest Home is and always has been a big part of my life.
Long may it continue!