Businesses prepare for their busiest days of the year ahead of Appleby Horse Fair

Businesses in Cumbria are preparing for the Appleby Horse Fair which starts tomorrow (9 June).

Thousands of Gypsies and Travellers have been arriving for the fair, which can attract up to 10,000 to the town from the Gypsy and Traveller communities.

The four-day festival is the busiest time of the year for the town and provides a boost for the local economy.

David Sykes, owns the River Eden Cafe, said:"They've been coming for years so these next few days it's get as much money in as you can because it keeps you going through the winter."

It is hoped business will be particularly good this year after two years of lockdowns.

The event has returned to its usual month of June for the first time in three years after cancellations and disruptions due to Covid.

Mr Sykes added: "Coming into work every morning there's four, five times as many of Travellers on the roadside so hopefully it's going to be a busier this year."

The horse fair is an annual celebration of Gypsy and Traveller heritage and culture, which brings the community together.

It is especially poignant for travellers Sheenagha Lee-Farrah and Sarah McFarlaing this year as they have walked nearly 13 miles to the festival in memory of their friend Jack Evans, a well known traveller who died earlier this year.

Sheenagha said: "You couldn't give an amount of how much Jack will be missed. You only have to mention the name.

"We've all grown up with Jack, he's done so much work. Led so many people into such a good world of horses."

Jack's family also made the journey this morning from Kirkby Stephen.

The walk in his memory has been used to raised money for charity.

Police are urging drivers to be cautious on the region's roads during the festival due to horse drawn and slow moving vehicles travelling around the area.

The event runs until 15 June, with the main days being over the weekend.

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