10 October 2008
When it comes to toy collectors fairs, they don’t come much bigger than those held at Donington Park and Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. These two huge fairs, organised from the start by Dave Jowett and his team from DJ Fairs, are, from this November onwards, to be managed by Barry Potter Fairs. Dave Jowett, ...
When it comes to toy collectors fairs, they don’t come much bigger than those held at Donington Park and Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. These two huge fairs, organised from the start by Dave Jowett and his team from DJ Fairs, are, from this November onwards, to be managed by Barry Potter Fairs. Dave Jowett, who remains busy with his auction business, will be organising his final fair at Donington in August and at the NEC in September.
Barry Potter, who is probably best known for running the Sandown Park Toy Fair, is seemingly unfazed by the challenge of taking on two more big fairs, both of which are similar in size to Sandown.
When the Gazette caught up with him, Barry said: ‘Dave Jowett has done a great job in running these fairs for so long, and he should be thanked for that. Basically though, we want to build on what he has done, and, if we can, make things even better. I am fortunate in having two sons who are both keen on running the fairs; although the business is in my name, it is Simon and Ellis who do most of the work. Ours is very much a family business which has been extended a little more now that Ellis is married and we have Valentina to help out.’
It is now 21 years since Barry Potter started the Sandown Park Fair in September 1987, and it was shortly after this that Dave Jowett, together with his then partner John Webb, started a similar sized event at Donington, followed by a second, even bolder, move to the NEC. Ever since then, whilst many other events have come and gone and collecting trends have invariably changed, it is fair to say that these three swapmeets have remained steadfast.
Barry is far from complacent, however, and is confident he can improve things further: ‘These are two great venues. Donington is right next to the M1 and the NEC, in the centre of the country, is one of Britain’s premier event venues.
There is no doubt that there is the potential to attract more people to these fairs, and still make them as enjoyable to visit as possible. Taking on these two events and trying to make them as good as we can is a big job, but it is also an exciting prospect at the same time.
‘We all know that going to a fair can be so much fun and most of us never lose that thrill of the chase, of coming away with something that takes our fancy. Let’s face it there is usually no better place to buy toys and models than at fairs, and most people who come find that out for themselves. When you have a big fair, full of stalls and a lively buzz in the air, it is an exciting place to be and that is exactly the sort of atmosphere we want to create.
‘Advertising the fairs will be our number one priority. As well as printing 20,000 colour leaflets for this year’s Donington and NEC dates, we will be advertising extensively in magazines and newspapers before each event. We will also be keeping the table and admission prices as low as we can. The bottom line is we want to get as many people there, we want to get these fairs really singing and dancing.’
Barry Potter Fairs’ first event at Donington will be on Sunday 2nd November, whilst the NEC kicks off on Sunday 14th December.