MOTORISTS have been warned of major road closures today as an annual Hampshire horse fair gets underway.

Wickham Horse Fair, a colourful tradition dating back 800 years, attracts thousands of people from across the county and turns the village into a no-go zone for traffic.

Last year's event was marred by a mass brawl involving members of the Kempster and Keet families.

Six defendants admitted charges in relation to the incident when they appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court earlier this month.

As reported in the Daily Echo, video footage shown in court captured David Keet, who was holding a child, being threatened with an unloaded catapult by James Albert Kempster, 27, of Bury Brickfields, Marchwood, in front of shocked crowds.

The RSPCA video also showed James Kempster Senior, 40, also of Bury Brickfields, running over brandishing a whip after jumping off his horse and trap.

David Keet's son Ricky Keet, 24, of Long Road, Soberton, was shown shooting a catapult into the head of Horace Kempster, 20, also of Bury Brickfields, who was subsequently charged with affray for his part in the brawl.

David Keet's wife, Esta Keet, 52, also of Long Road, Soberton, was shown assaulting one of the others involved in the brawl.

David “Digger” Keet, 28, also of Long Road, Soberton, was subsequently charged with assault.

All the defendants pleaded guilty to offences relating to the incident but were handed community orders and other non-custodial sentences.

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets again today as the equine community comes together to parade their stock.

The famous event is an opportunity to view decorated Shire horses, Shetland ponies and spectacular bareback riding through The Square.

The A334 Winchester Road will be closed between the traffic lights at Blind Lane and the A32 roundabout between 5am and 8pm.