Hundreds of children crowded St Ives town centre on Monday for the opening of the Michaelmas Fair – marking an 800-year-old tradition.

The opening of the three-day event, which continues until tonight (Wednesday), was also a chance to play out an 80-year tradition of throwing pennies in the air (albeit carefully, in these days of health and safety) for children to pick up, historically to pay for rides.

St Ives mayor Councillor Debbie Townsend opened the fair by reading the charter.

"There was a really great turnout and loads for kids," she said. "It did start to rain but it didn't last and it certainly didn't put anyone off."

The evening was the climax of a weekend stay by the mayor of St Ives's twin town, Stadtallendorf, and his wife - Christian and Llona Somogyi - and their daughter Nina.

The German mayor, who started his six-year term in office in March, received a picture of St Ives by artist Ann Priddy and in return gave engraved Champagne glasses to Cllr Townsend, Nick Dibben, the deputy mayor, and Kay Hewitt, chairman of the twinning association.