A FANTASTIC August Bank Holiday weekend is on the cards again with over 20 Morris sides set to dance at this year’s Rushcart festival.
Taking place on Saturday, 25 and Sunday 26, Saddleworth Morris Men will be hosting the 44th event of its kind, after the tradition was revitalised in 1975.
Once a competition held among the villages to see who could build the largest Cart, the event will attract around 250 Morris folk from as far as Coventry, Newcastle, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
As is tradition, long-serving member Paul Sinkinson, who joined the side in 2007, will be this year’s Jockey sitting on top of the Cart.
David Biggs, Squire of Saddleworth Morris Men, said: “We have a fantastic line-up this year with over 20 sides attending and we’re looking forward to seeing the ever-supportive general public.
“The Rushcart brings in thousands of pounds for local businesses, particularly pubs and eateries.
“It’s a long-standing tradition which dates from 1975 for Saddleworth Morris Men but for hundreds of years in the local area, with the First World War typically seen as the major tragic event which prevented its continuation for some time.
“I’d like to thank all of the businesses, patrons and our supporters who help us to keep this tradition alive and we look forward to putting on a good show.
“I’m sure Paul will enjoy his role as Jockey and it will be great to welcome him to the elite club of those who have been in the side long enough to sit on top of the Cart.”
This year is also significant as Saddleworth Morris Men’s very own Eddie Worrall is ‘dancing out’ after two years as Squire of national organisation the Morris Ring, which has over 170 sides as members.
Eddie has represented the organisation across the country, attending around 60 events and recently ventured abroad to Holland with Saddleworth Morris Men to represent the UK and traditional English dancing with pride.
Eddie, Squire of the Morris Ring, said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time as Squire. It’s been an honour and a privilege, and a high standard of Morris dancing is very much alive and well across the country.
“I look forward to seeing Pete Simpson of Jockey Morris Men from Birmingham taking up the role, he’ll do a fantastic job.”