We have quite a few good ideas for traditional games that are ideal for school fetes and summer fairs. See the Games for Fairs & Fetes page for the full list of suitable games. Below are a selection of these games with an overview of how each game is played.
Obviously there's the coconut shy - seen at all fairgrounds everywhere! We sell coconut shy balls and poles but you'll need to rig up a backdrop or something to absorb the impact of the balls.
For children, you might want to just balance the coconuts straight on
top of the pole without the cup to make it easy for them.
Along similar lines, the Oxfordshire pub game Aunt Sally, is another good idea for a fair. We sell the doll, swivel iron, sticks and a special Aunt Sally backdrop. The backdrop is quite expensive and requires a frame to be made so is more for serious Aunt Sally players. However, if you can hang up an old carpet or sheet of some kind, then the only other piece of equipment needed is a pole and a length of 3/4 inch gas pipes is ideal for this purpose...
We would suggest that this is a game for older children and adults -
small children will find it too difficult
We also have the classic fair game Hoopla available. You can attach prizes like cuddly toys or bottles of drinks to the posts with elastic bands.
Or you can just leave the blocks and posts by themselves and let people choose a prize for each hoop that goes over the pole.
You can adjust the rules to be strict or more relaxed according to the punters. If you don't want many prizes to be won, insist that the hoop has to lay down completely flat around the block. You need to decide if a hoop that goes over the pole but not over the prize attached to it wins or not...
With the Climbing Maze, your punters grab hold of the rope on either side of the game and with careful tugging, inch the wooden compartment with the precarious ball up the game board trying to avoid the holes.
We've got two versions of the game - a table-top game which is more for home use or where you're pushed for space. And then the Mega Climbing Maze which is free-standing and makes a great spectacle. The larger Climbing Maze has a maze on both sides so that you can have 2 players playing at once.
Yes, really - it works! Just set up a person with a pack of A4 cards and a platform to place them on and play the "Higher - Lower" game like Bruce Forsyth.
If constructing a platform is difficult, just get a desk and sit behind it, holding the cards up as you draw them and then laying them on the table.
At Children's fairs, the children can win a prize if they get, say, 3 cards in a row.
For village fairs, the person who has the biggest run of cards in a row,
wins the grand prize perhaps.
People have used Limbo successfully at village fetes and school fairs.
One way to do it is to give children a small prize if they manage to go underneath the bar at a certain height -set for their age. If they want to try to go even lower well why not?
Or perhaps a bottle of wine for the lowest adult of the day and a bottle
of Cream Soda for the lowest child of the day!
Less well known but equally suitable for a village fete or other public event like this is the sport of Knur and Spell. In this game, a ball is balanced on a little see-saw called a Spell or Trap and this is used to shoot the ball up into the air whereupon it is bashed as hard as possible down the field.
It's just a case of who can hit it the furthest so for a school fete, you might want to have a competition for each age-group and present the winner with a prize at the end of the day.
Probably more suitable for older children and adults, bear in mind that you'll need a big area to hit into and someone to retrieve the balls...
We sell the necessary Bat, Trap
and Ball and all you need is a large open area and someone to fetch
There is nothing quite like the sight of a Skittles alley or Skittles table to generate a bit of enthusiasm amongst adults and youngsters at any event - everyone wants to have a go. Skittles has been played at English summer fairs since at least the thirteenth century. Keep the tradition going!
James Masters, the owner of Masters Traditional Games, takes his Northamptonshire Skittles table along to the local school's summer fair every year and it's usually the most popular stall. A Skittles Table is ideal for a fair, indoors or outdoors, because you don't need to construct anything to catch the pins, balls or cheeses and it's less effort to reset the pins each time.
That said, a Skittles Table is very expensive so normal alley skittles are a more common and practical option for most fairs. Three things to bear in mind:
The game can be played on grass as long as there aren't too many bumps but the flatter the surface, the better the result will be. If you want to be really traditional, for adults, you might wish to consider playing Long Alley skittles where instead of rolling balls, the balls or cheeses are hurled the length of the alley directly onto the pins. That way, you won't need to worry about the alley surface at all.
Better for indoors, and a good alternative where space is in limited supply, Table Skittles works very well at a fair. If a person hasn't done it before, they'll need to be shown how to swing the ball and perhaps have a practice swing first.
Each player gets 3 turns. For school fairs, you can give a prize if the children get a score of 6 or more. For village fairs, the highest score of the day wins a bottle of wine or something. The highest score will usually be 9 or more:- scoring more than 9 requires the player to topple all the pins with their first 2 swings which is not that easy.
If your funds will stretch to it, we would recommend our Hand-made Table Skittles game with the cord-return , as pictured left. The cord return is really useful because the skittles can't be sent flying across the floor into next door's pig pen and re-setting them only takes a couple of seconds instead of around half a minute.
However, we do have a variety of Table
Skittles games to suit all requirements of space and budget.
Another idea that is provenly successful at a fair is the game of Quoits.
Proper traditional Steel Quoits is played using clay pits but "Sward Quoits" is just the same game with the target stake stuck into a a lawn or other grassy area). It makes a great spectacle but we would suggest using rope or rubber quoits for safety reasons.
More appropriate in most cases are wooden rope quoits games. You can buy either the version with the wooden base or if the ground is earth or sand a version with a stake that sticks into the ground.
We also sell several types of Cross Quoits sets. These are usually played with rope quoits. The multiple stakes adds an element of luck which we feel is less satisfying and so recommend them only for younger children.
Ball is yet another ancient game that has been revamped into a modern
form. Just roll the balls and try to get them through the highest scoring
arches. Jaques sell two version of it - the Giant version is great for
While the full game of Sjoelbak takes too long for a fair stand, it isn't too difficult to come up with a cut-down version that is suitable.
Here is our recommendation: Use 12 discs and 2 rounds per turn with a prize for the winning score. The scoring principle is the same as the full game but with 12 discs the maximum score is 60 points (and with only two rounds any score over 20 points is good!).
If it is a school fair with prizes given out willie-nillie, then decide on a score and award a prize for any child who beats it. 20 is a good target score because 1 disk in each of the 4 compartments scores double which makes 20!
To maximise fund raising potential put 2 Dutch shuffleboards side by side with a chair/controller/scorer in between. This also increases competition as you can have friends, husbands/wives etc. playing against each other at the same time.
Sometimes people pin balloons up on a backboard and the aim is to throw darts to pop the balloons.
However, the classic Darts games is "Score less than Twenty". It sounds simple but it's harder than you think. Of course you must make it clear that all 3 darts must score.
To make it easier to win a prize, increase the target score. To make it harder, you could add the condition that no two darts must fall in the same bed...
Do Let us know if you think there's something missing from this list.
We have a great array of games for Fayres and fund-raising events. Follow the link to see our full fair games portfolio.