Clogs and cart at the ready for this year’s Rushbearing Festival in Sowerby Bridge

Wharfedale Wayzgooze , pictured performing outside The Maypole Inn at last year's festival, are part of the line-up again for this year's Rushbearing.
Wharfedale Wayzgooze , pictured performing outside The Maypole Inn at last year's festival, are part of the line-up again for this year's Rushbearing.

The cart is getting decorated, clogs are getting polished and the morris dancers are busy practicing - yes, Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival is almost here.

Thousands of people from all over Calderdale line the streets every year for the festival, which is the only one of its kind in Yorkshire and this year takes place from Saturday, September 1 to Sunday, September 2.

Sowerby Bridge held its first modern Rushbearing in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee and it hasbeen proving a popular tradition ever since.

The spectacle of the cart itself draws crowds - a 16 feet high, two-wheeled, handsomely decorated and thatched creation which is pulled by sixty local men, all dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs.

Preparing and thatching the cart ready for the festival takes about a week and a half and involves a team of around 15 people.

On top sits the cart maiden who is one of a team of young women who take it in turns to climb the cart and ride around the rushbearing route throughout the festival.

Accompanying the cart is a group of talented musicians and a whirlwind of colour and mischief brought by several teams of morris dancers.

Stops are made to present token rushes at the churches and to dance at public houses en route.

Throughout the event there are other attractions including a pre-rushbearing get-together at The Puzzle Hall Inn from 8pm on the Friday before and a craft market with a variety of stalls at Sowerby Bridge Market in Wharf Street e from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

Visitors will be able to enjoy stalls at Christ Church in Sowerby Bridge from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, a horticultural show at St Paul’s Church in Sowerby Bridge from 2pm to 6pm on Saturday and a folk session at The Navigation Inn at 8.30pm on Saturday along with other live music at venues across the town.

There will also be a flower festival at St Bartholomew’s Church in Ripponden from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, a rushbearing service at St Peter’s Church in Sowerby Bridge at 10.30am on Sunday and a fete in Ripponden from 2pm on Sunday.

The fete will climax with the arrival of the rushbearing procession, led by a New Orleans jazz band, with the presentation of rushes, morris dancing and the Songs of Praise service in the church.

The collection of dancers and performers taking part this year include Four Hundred Roses who come from across the region combining UK-style folk dancing with more exotic tribal belly dance moves.

When designing their costumes, they decided to use an abundance of red and white silk roses appropriate to their Yorkshire and Lancashire origin - hence their name.

The Hebden Bridge Hill Millies - an all female team - will also be performing along with Ryburn Longsword, Red Door Rapper, Bradshaw Mummers, White Rose Morris Men, Wharfedale Waygooze, Mortimer’s Morris, The Jig Crew, Peresphone Women’s North West Morris Kirkburton Rapier Dancers, Powderkegs and Sowerby Bridge Morris Dancers, who will be displaying the Diamond Jubilee Dance.

For more information and a full schedule visit www.rushbearing.com. On Twitter, follow @Rushbearing.