When: 18th June 2016
Where: Ock Street, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
What is it?
The Election of the Mayor of Ock Street is an annual local event, where a mayor is elected each year by the residents of Ock Street in Abingdon.
The Mayor of Ock Street is a folk tradition where a ‘mock mayor’ is elected by the local residents. Candidates are drawn from one of the members of the Abingdon Morris side.
The day of voting is followed by traditional Morris dancing and merriment. This includes carrying the newly elected mayor down Ock Street whilst carrying a wooden chalice and sword, followed by the Ock Street Horns (a carved wooden ox head).
The Ock Street election is organised by the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers and is used as an excuse for inviting other Morris sides to Abingdon and having a day-long festival of dance.
The residents and businesses of Ock Street all have the right to vote. The election count takes place, rather handily, in the Brewery Tap at 4pm. The Mayor, is then paraded along Ock Street and spends the next year as squire of the Morris side. The dancing and festivities usually continue well into the evening.
Traditionally this quirky custom coincided with the day of the annual horse fair, but these days it’s held on the nearest Saturday to June 19th. This year the election will take place on the 18th June.
Polling begins at 10am, accompanied by a parade of the Morris sides from the Brewery Tap into the town centre. The dancing continues throughout the day, with the new mayor being carried along Ock Street between 4.15pm and 7.15pm.
Mock mayors were once a widespread British custom but now there are only a handful of places, such as Oxfordshire and Cornwall, carrying on the tradition. The mock mayor is meant to be a parody of the actual civic mayor, and these events were meant to help keep the real mayor in check.
More info: www.abingdonmorris.org.uk