ABINGDON is a place which relishes its civic traditions, like no other small town for miles around, possibly even in all of England.

On Sunday night, the robed and hatted members of Abingdon Town Council, preceded by a civic Macebearer, climbed onto the carousel in the Market Place, for the annual blessing of the Michaelmas Fair.

In his introduction, the presiding minister said: “This service is a bit different and a bit quirky.” He spoke of the importance of tradition in a changing world.

A few recent traditions take place online, like the annual Facebook discussion about how to calculate the correct date of the fair.

Abingdon Town Council’s website states: “By law, the fair must take place annually on the Monday and Tuesday falling first before the 11 October in the centre of Abingdon.”

Tradition in and of itself, however, is surely not a reason to keep an event going, especially when that tradition originates in and commemorates a form of quasi-indentured agricultural labour, long since consigned to history.

Tradition not for the sake of it, because ‘we’ve always done things this way’, but tradition which has a continuing relevance, rooted in the past and relevant to the present, even the future.

The Runaway Fair which takes place a week later also causes traffic disruption, but it is much less significant because it is operating on a smaller area.

Perhaps it is time to similarly restrict the operating area of the Michaelmas Fair.

In reality though, it is bound to carry on, for as long as it continues to make money for the town council who hold the rights to fairs and markets in Abingdon.

Closing such an extensive area for three days, creating oppressive traffic queues, has a cost to the community.

Especially this year, when Oxfordshire County Council also closed Clifton Hampden Bridge for works at the same time as the fair, forcing traffic over the next nearest Thames crossing at Sutton Bridge, between Culham and Sutton Courtenay.

As if all of this were not enough, on Monday there was also an overnight closure of the A34 between Milton and Marcham, meaning lorries and other large goods vehicles were driving through Steventon and Drayton, navigating narrow double roundabouts at the end of Ock Street.

The county council’s letter to local residents makes no reference to alternative taxi ranks, as a result of the road closures.

If you are in need of a taxi in Abingdon centre at this time, you can usually find some waiting on Stratton Way, although you would not know, from the council’s circular.

So much in Abingdon is assumed to be known. Rather than ‘faith and industry’, Abingdon Town Council’s motto could be ‘we’ve always done things this way’.