A fair was first held in Soho in 1883, and then intermittently, including a fair and market held in aid of the Soho Hospital for Women in 1939. When we lived in Horse and Dolphin Yard The Soho Festival as it was then, and is now, called had recently been reconstituted as an annual event organised by the Soho Society (currently each July) in the grounds of St Anne’s Garden.
In September 1976, then only 7 years old, Ondekoza the stunning Japanese band of timpanists entertained the Soho Festival. These images are from my original colour slides. ‘Founded in 1969 by Den Tagayasu, in Sado Island, Japan. Ondekoza was influential in the rise of the kumi-daiko (group taiko) style of taiko. Not a taiko player himself, Tagayasu helped transform taiko from a festival-based music form to a virtuosic performance art performed on stage. Ondekoza’s performances in North America in 1975 was the first exposure for many and helped spread interest in taiko through North America. The now widely recognized style of wearing only a ‘shimekomi’ (‘fundoshi loincloth) was originally started by Ondekoza when Pierre Cardin suggested that the physique of the drummer be exposed. The traditional Japanese drummers do not play only in underwear.'(Wikipedia)
A Punch and Judy show in 1976 gave entertainment for all ages. One photograph I took of the audience featured on the cover of the Social Care Association’s monthly magazine.
Becky, on this occasion, was distracted from the puppets by the sight of my lens. A little boy nearby, was engaged in that familiar comforting exercise of thumb-sucking combined with ear-twiddling. Another had lost one of his front incisors.
The first family member to have the courage to enter a spaghetti eating competition was Michael.
As the dry spaghetti was ladled onto his plate, he looked as if he was about to bite off more that he could chew. The thin coating of tomato sauce, looking no more appetising than ketchup, didn’t seem to do much to improve the digestion. My son soon got stuck in. He and one of his rivals seemed to think the nearer the dish they got, the better their chances.
The booted Gypsy Joe was a very good professional photographer who befriended Michael and produced some excellent images of the boy and his dog, Piper.
An elderly gentleman, eating at a leisurely pace, had probably just come along for his dinner.
The large Romeo y Julieta samples for the cigar smoking contest had coincidentally been provided by a supplier called Knight. The idea was that you smoked one of these lengthy monsters for as long as you could without losing the ash. When I entered in 1977, I actually had the longest ash, but mine was bent. I therefore came second to a woman whose was straight. You can imagine the ribaldry that provoked. My vanquisher is seated on the right of the newspaper cutting above. I am prone on the floor.