The idea of Northampton having a 'green festival' came after a local couple, Richard and Jeanie Parsonson attended the Glastonbury festival in the late 1980s. As members of the local Friends of the Earth group, they put on a couple of events at the Labour Club called 'Green Things' and then an outdoor event called 'Green Day' at Northampton Boys School.
To expand the festival idea they contacted the local Greenpeace, CND and Amnesty International groups and a collaboration of interested people came together to put on the first collectively organised festival which they called the 'Fools Fete'. It was held on the bandstand at Abington Park on May 1st 1990 and was the start of a series of annual Umbrella Fair festivals.
However, the group wanted to do more than hold festivals and formed the Umbrella Fair Organisation with a vision to start a Northamptonshire based Centre for Alternative Technology. Although discussions took place with the local authorities and a site just outside Corby was considered, the plans didn't come to fruition. The festival grew over the years with more and more people attending, more things happening until 1994 when the festival was attended by over 18,000 from many areas of interest and culture but sadly the number of people working to keep the event going was too small to justify it continuing and there were no more festivals until 2007. To find out how it got up and running again, click here.