Village People

Paul Fairweather
3 min readJul 29, 2023


September Fete (Watercolour on paper Paul Fairweather October 2017) & Fête Septembre, Pontoise — 1872 by Camille Pissarro

A village tradition

Holy Spirit school held their fete a week ago and this year it was called the Spring Fair, maybe to soften the connotation of that four letter F word . But in the end, putting on a fete is hard work no matter what you call it.

In New Farm, the Holy Spirit School and New Farm State School have a long standing arrangement that their fetes are held on alternate years. I have no idea how this came about but this is a great system. It puts less pressure on local businesses who give an enormous amount of support to both schools while preventing parent and, more importantly, organiser burn out.

I have spoken to lots of parents from schools outside the peninsula and generally I get the same response. Fete’s are hard work and almost always there is the sense that they would rather just pass the hat around or organize an art union, than go to the effort. This has been the fate of many a school fete, so to speak.

In our ever busier lives, we have lost many of our traditions. But the idea of a fete as a festival goes back hundreds and hundreds of years.

Fete comes from the French word Fȇte meaning holiday or party.

The tradition of fete paintings was started in the 1600’s and in 1717 the French academy had introduced a genre of painting named Fete Galante to capture the magic of the Fête Champêtre , the French Garden Party.

By all accounts our fete was the most successful yet,

As fate happens, due to major building works at the school, we were unable to hold the fete on the school playground, but gratefully the Archbishop granted the school permission to set up our international food stands behind Wynberg! The result, with the back drop of both the Holy Spirit Church and was an atmosphere that evokes fetes of past.

The planning and arranging had been going on for months and months. However, the day before, as we putting the finishing touches on the setup, the heavens opened. As the storms starting to roll in, we were thinking that maybe the 11th of September was not the most auspicious day for a celebration. Very worrying was the Weather Bureau forecast was for a fine day!

The next morning, there was a collective sigh of relief as hundreds of Holy Spirit parents woke to a beautiful spring day. With all the rain it was if the fete setup had been given a spring clean and a perfect backdrop for our best fete yet!

I know next year I will be a very relaxed participant at the New Farm State School Fete, and whilst I will soak up all the fun of the fair (or fete in their case) with not an ounce of effort, I will be secretly a little envious because I know in the end the New Farm State School parents will be having more fun!

Because in the end, it is their fete!