How it all began
During the early spring of 1989 a group of local classic motorcycle enthusiasts met quite by chance in the bar of the Chequers pub and of course the topic was soon that of motorcycles, and the need to plan the forthcoming season and which classic venues we should visit. It soon became evident that on the August Bank Holiday there were no local events planned for the nearest venue of any significance was near London. Over our beer we approached the subject of having our own small gathering, to which other like-minded enthusiasts would come. By the end of the evening we had talked it over, and realised that we had the manpower and a nucleus of classic bikes within the locality, on which to base a show.
As all shows have a corporate name and logo by which they are identified, we decided that we must follow suit and came up with the 'Fenman'. The name was picked to identify the Fenland area which we border, and was taken directly from the Fenman express which runs from London to Kings Lynn. The logo, which depicts a farm-hand complete with smock, floppy hat and pitch fork, is indicative of the agricultural nature of our area.
After a further meeting during which we thrashed out the theoretical planning of a show, we made the decision to go ahead, but this was not without some soul searching, for we realised that some £700 was needed "up front" to cover trophies, advertising and printing costs. This money we paid out of our own pockets, and we gambled on a successful first show. Many questions were raised as to how we should organise the event, who we should invite, what sort of catering we should have and could the pub cope with the unknown quantity of visitors. A captive area was needed on which to site the exhibits, and the landlord kindly offered us the car park behind the pub, as well as the field behind that. But the field was a wilderness, overgrown and used as a dumping ground by the builders during the recent renovation of the Chequers. Working parties were arranged and a strip was cleared to service the needs for the first show, this work carrying on for a further six years before the field was eventually totally cleared and became a usable showing area.
Prior to the first show the Parish Council were approached, for permission to stage the event, who sanctioned the venture with some reservation, for the thought of the village being taken over by gangs of marauding bikers was uppermost on their minds, as it was too on the minds of some village residents. Today there are no worries about the disruption that the show now brings, for this is only one day a year, and the proceeds that are raised all go to very worthy Local causes.
The day of the first show arrived, and so did the visitors from all over East Anglia in numbers far exceeding our expectations. The crowd was well behaved and liked what they saw, for by then we had managed to attract some 60 bikes and a handful of traders to the Venue. That evening when we finally sat down and counted the money we were surprised to find that we had actually made a profit (we expected at best to only break even) of £500.
Another meeting was called to decide what to do with the proceeds, and it was at this meeting that we decided give the profit to the Kings Lynn branch of the St Johns Ambulance Service, and from the next show onwards to support Local charities only. To this end we opted to support the Downham Market Childrens Fund, a charity administered by the RAOB and the Lions, which looks after the needs of local children who live within 12 miles of the town. As the funds began to grow with the increase of visitors to the show, further charities were looked after, namely the St John Ambulance Service and the British Red Cross, who give their services free at all motorsport events and rely on donations to keep them buoyant. As the village helps us, so we help the village, and to date have paid for seats on the village green and Turners Close, as well as donating funds to the Village Hall, the Village School, the Allotments and the Playing Field Fighting Fund.