SADDLEWORTH’S Whit Friday Brass Band Contests have been cancelled for only the second occasion in more than 100 years.
The contests annually see thousands of bands from across the country and even around the world take to the village’s streets for the ‘greatest free show on earth’.
Last year’s event saw 119 bands compete for the individual contest prizes at 11 locations in Saddleworth and Oldham, as well as the overall area prizes.
The event, which started in 1884, was cancelled last century during the wars but otherwise has been a constant fixture in locals’ diaries (Delph missed one in 1956 due to financial circumstances).
But now organisers have confirmed the event planned for Friday, June 5 will not go ahead because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Bob Rodgers, on behalf of the Saddleworth Area Contests, confirmed all 11 contests are cancelled.
He said: “Following much soul searching, we have reluctantly decided we must follow government guidelines and guidance from Brass Bands England and not hold the contest.
“We’ve had it in the back of our mind for a few weeks now as things have developed around the world, but particularly for the last week.
“The contests all considered what to do and the general consensus was it would be inevitable that it would be cancelled. Everybody is in the same boat.
“So we did the responsible thing and made the decision now before too much money is spent on it.
“Brass Band England has been recommending bands don’t go to any contests and they are led by Public Health England, so we have to be guided by that.
“We know this is one of the highlights of the calendar not only for local people, but also for brass bands nationally and internationally.
“But if we had tried to go ahead we could have been responsible for spreading the virus and we don’t want that.
“We also need to be responsible and think of the police so we don’t put any extra burden on them.
“We look forward to running a fantastic event on May, 28, 2021 and hope that everyone keeps safe throughout these unprecedented times.”