Games for fairs, village fetes or school fayres - FAQ
We have plenty of good ideas for traditional games that are ideal for school fetes and summer fairs - see our Fair Games page for the full list of suitable games - and below are a selection of these games with an overview of how each game is played.
See also: Fair Games - Fetes & Fund-raising
Coconut Shy EquipmentObviously 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.
Aunt SallyAlong 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
Hoopla GameWe 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...
Mega Climbing Maze - freestandingHere's a great 'have a go' game for a fayre.
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.
Giant Playing CardsYes, 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.
Quoits GamesAnother idea that has proven 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.
Tin Throwing Game / Tin Can AlleyA classic game for fairs and events, Tin Throwing is guaranteed to pull in the punters and entertain all ages.
Players usually get three bags or balls to hurl at the stacked tins. If you knock them all down you win a prize.
Bat and TrapLess 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. Or perhaps you could use plastic golf practice balls which won't go nearly as far.
We sell the necessary Bat, Trap and Ball and all you need is a large open area and someone to fetch the balls!
Skittle GamesSkittle games always go down well at fairs and are sure to draw a crowd. Skittles alley or Skittles table particularly generate a lot of enthusiasm amongst adults and youngsters alike. A Skittles Table is very expensive so normal alley skittles are a more common and practical option for most fairs. Skittles has been played at English summer fairs since at least the thirteenth century. Keep the tradition going!
Table Skittles may be the better option for indoors and provides a good alternative where space is in limited supply.
Sjoelbak - Dutch shuffleboardWhile 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.
DartsDarts has long been a fairground attraction - indeed British Darts almost certainly originated in the fairground.
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...