Celebrating 40 years of festival revival
ancient tradition meets the modern love of entertainment when Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing takes to the streets this weekend for the 40th anniversary of its revival.
A get-together event on Friday night, September 1, will be followed by events around Sowerby Bridge, Warley, Sowerby, Triangle and Ripponden over the course of Saturday, September 2, and Sunday, September 3.
One of the few places where the Rushbearing tradition still takes place, it was revived in Sowerby Bridge in 1977.
Historically, it dates back several centuries to the time when church floors consisted of little more than stone flags or beaten earth and rushes were used as a winter covering. A highlight is the rushbearing procession around seven towns and villages, visiting many churches and local hostelries along the way.
The focal point of the procession is the 16 feet high, two-wheeled, handsomely decorated and thatched rushcart.
A team of young women take turns to ride on top of the cart as it is pulled by 60 local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs.
Accompanying them are supporters in Edwardian dress along with some of the region’s finest musicians and morris dancing teams to provide entertainment.
Fifteen different dance teams will perform.
In addition to the actual Rushbearing procession and Morris Dancing, a wide range of events to enjoy over the Rushbearing weekend include Friday night live music at the Hog’s Head, Sowerby Bridge, Saturday entertainment focussed around the Marketplace, Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge, with the Sowerby Bridge Horticultural Society show at St Paul’s Church, Tower Hill, and on Sunday events will be centred around two churches, St Peter’s, Sowerby, in the morning and St Bartholomew’s, Ripponden, in the afternoon, which includes a village fete and at which the Rushbearing cart will finally arrive for the closing Songs of Praise service.