THERE will be no morris men dancing through the streets of Saddleworth this summer after the group confirmed its ‘heartbreaking decision’ to cancel its Rushcart event.
It is the second year in a row the popular occasion, which was scheduled for August 21-22, has not gone ahead due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saddleworth Morris wrote on their Facebook page: “We can officially confirm that we have made the heartbreaking decision to cancel the Rushcart again.
“We are devastated to be doing so for the second year running, but the pandemic has brought considerable levels of uncertainty to an event that is already complex to organise.
“A respectable number of sides confirmed attendance, but the size of many were lower than usual.
“The last thing we want is the potential to arrive on Rushcart Saturday morning to find a Cart there which can’t be pulled. It would be unfair to those sides that travel to take part, the local community and our Jockey.
“We are extremely humbled by those sides who wished to attend and we also wholeheartedly understand the reasons many cannot – whether that be concerns around a lack of practice this year or the pandemic in general.
“We’re sure many of those that were willing to come will have had the former somewhere in their minds!
“The Rushcart will be back in full swing in August 2022.”
The event, which was held for the 45th time in 2019, attracts hundreds of morris men from up and down the country for a weekend of festivities and dancing.
The sides pull the decorative cart, which is handmade from rushes cut from moorland above Saddleworth, through the villages and stop at villages along the way to dance.
On Sunday morning, a service is held at St Chad’s Church Saddleworth and the rushes from the cart are laid out across the church floor.
Then there is more dancing and the popular wrestling, gurning and the worst singer competitions outside the Church Inn and Cross Keys in Uppermill.