BANBURY mayor Tony Ilott felt like the Pied Piper as children followed him to get free rides at the annual Michaelmas Fair.

Rides occupy the Market Place and Horsefair, and in a long-standing tradition the town mayor carries a 14cm brass key. When he touches a ride with the key, children get a free go.

Mr Ilott, 61, said: “The fair must be about 400 years old and people in Banbury look forward to it all year. When the children see me with my key they follow me around so they can get a free ride – I’m a bit like the Pied Piper.

“It’s called the Golden Key but it’s made of brass and, as far as I know, this tradition doesn’t happen anywhere else.

“There are lots of scary rides but after I opened the fair I just had a go on the dodgems.

“This is one of Banbury’s biggest events of the year and thousands of people come along.”

The fair opened on Wednesday and continues until tomorrow.