When: 1st & 2nd September 2018
Where: Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire
What is it?
The annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing first took place in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. This year’s rushbearing event takes place on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September.
Rushbearing ceremonies were common in times before churches had proper seating for its parishioners. The floors of churches were covered with rushes in order to make them more comfortable.
Once a year the worn out rushes would be replaced with new ones and this annual chore was turned into a celebratory event.
These days there are only a handful of rushbearing ceremonies that still take place. The Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing is possibly the only one to take place in Yorkshire.
The event takes place over several days every September and the focal point is a sixteen foot high, two-wheeled, decorated and thatched rushcart. The cart is pulled by sixty local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs, accompanied by musicians, mummers and folk dancers through the streets of Sowerby Bridge and Ripponden.
Each year a team of around 15 people create a new rushcart for the festival, which takes about a week and a half to construct.
On the Friday night there is a traditional pre-rushbearing get-together at Hollins Mill in Sowerby Bridge, which usually features live music and ale.
On the Saturday there is entertainment around Warley and Sowerby Bridge. The day will feature brass bands, morris dancing, mumming, and charity stalls. Then, on the Sunday there will be a rushbearing service at St Peter’s Church and morris dancing at The Rushcart Inn. There will also be belly dancers, a jazz band, mummers, and games.
The colourful rushcart procession is a unique spectacle as it takes the nine-mile route through local villages over the course of the weekend. The procession sees a team of young ladies taking turns to ride on top of the cart and stops are made at the churches along the way to hand over the rushes and there are dance performances at the local public houses.
More info: www.rushbearing.com