Animal magic

Looking to bring some animal magnetism to your fair or event? Nuala Calvi asks three PTAs about their star attraction

We booked a visit from a “unicorn”

I wanted to run events that would help make our pupils’ childhoods as magical as possible. So, for our Easter event we hired a ‘unicorn’ called Moon – a beautiful white pony with a golden horn headress. It was all done very tastefully – no dyeing the pony’s hair pink or anything – and looked quite natural. We hired her from the owner of a local reindeer ranch who usually runs Christmas events. They charged £300 for Moon to be with us for two hours with her handler. They brought the horse box straight onto the playground and set up the unicorn in a pen under our gazebo, which they had decorated with leaves and ivy garlands. The children could stroke the unicorn’s head and have their picture taken with her. It was a massive draw, especially for the girls and the younger boys; a lot of them were heard saying: ‘I’ve seen a real unicorn!’ The enclosure was big enough that the pony could move around and go off to eat hay if she wanted a break from people. We staggered the times, so it was all very calm, rather than everyone crowding around her at once. We charged £4 for entry, which included meeting the unicorn and the other activities, such as the Easter egg hunt and arts and crafts tables. People could also pay for extras, such as the lucky dip, rainbow raffle and refreshments. Overall, the event raised £800, and the unicorn definitely helped create an extra buzz.

Gemma Parsons, chair, Knights Templar School Community Association, Watchet, Somerset (200 pupils)

We made money from chicken poop

Every year, we rope one of our school chickens – named Hedwig, after the owl in Harry Potter – into doing a ‘chicken drop’ at the summer fair. We do have a couple of other birds, but they’re too mischievous and good at escaping.

Other than Hedwig, all we use is a king-sized bed sheet. We draw a grid on it, similar to a chessboard. This year, ours was a bit wonky because we made it with a squiffy ruler after a couple of glasses of wine.

A good tip is to use a Sharpie so you can wash the sheet afterwards and use it again the following year without the grid coming off. Our grid contained 225 squares, and people paid a pound to guess which one Hedwig would poop on. The prize was £40 in cash.

We sold the squares with our raffle tickets before and on the day of the fair. People picked their squares from a drawing of the grid, and we took down their names and phone numbers. We managed to sell all but 20 squares, raising £165. People from the local farming community were happy to lend us sheep hurdles, which we used to create an enclosure for Hedwig. When the time came, we placed her on the grid. Everyone watched with bated breath to see where she would poop.

Unfortunately for poor Hedwig, it took her about 20 minutes to drop, and by then, most people had wandered off to the auction. But we made an announcement to let everyone know she had finally done it. We didn’t want to put her under any pressure to perform because the last thing you want is a stressed-out chicken on your hands.

Cathy Bevan, vice chair, Goodrich Primary School PTFA, Ross on Wye (145 pupils)

We ran a Shetland pony hair salon

For our summer fair, we decided to try something new. Our treasurer had recently visited a community farm where they kept Shetland ponies, and suggested that we invite them to our school. It wasn’t something they usually did, but luckily they agreed. We didn’t have the space to accommodate pony rides, so we booked them purely for petting and ‘hairdressing’ purposes. Two ponies came along and we set up an area for them on the grass next to our eco garden, beside the school building. The children took turns petting them, putting ribbons in their manes and styling their hair.

The ponies were exceptionally well behaved and stood patiently for two hours, letting the children go wild styling their hair. The farm staff provided all the clips and ribbons, and the younger children, in particular, loved putting them on the ponies. Some older children were able to do plaits and ponytails, too. Each child could spend ten minutes with a pony, and we charged £4 a session.

The animals were there for the entire summer fair, which lasted about two hours. We paid £150 for them to attend, and although we just about broke even, we’d jump at the chance to have them again, just to see the smiles on the children’s faces. They absolutely loved it, and most of them had never been able to do anything like it before. They have all asked for the ponies to return next year. If possible, we would like to have more ponies next time to give more pupils the chance to meet them. Some children missed out, and the ponies couldn’t stay any longer because two hours is their limit in the summer heat.

Aly Johnson, chair, Friends of Rowlands Gill Primary School, Tyne and Wear (196 pupils)