Vale gears up for national Morris festival

BELLS: Pebworth Morris Men at the Vale of Evesham Festival Weekend, the National Morris Weekend, in 2012

BELLS: Pebworth Morris Men at the Vale of Evesham Festival Weekend, the National Morris Weekend, in 2012

First published in News by

THE Vale will be awash with colourful outfits, music and plenty of dancing this weekend as the seventh National Morris Weekend takes place.

Bells will be ringing as about 350 people from 23 Morris sides from across the country including Evesham side Belle de Vain get together to celebrate the joys of the traditional pastime.

Festivities kick off tomorrow at Evesham Rowing Club with an evening of Morris dancing before Morris sides converge in Pershore, Broadway, The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Stratford and Evesham to dance on Saturday morning.

There will be mass dancing in Crown Meadow, Evesham, in the afternoon and further festivities that evening in the Trumpet Inn, Merstow Green, Evesham, and a Mummers Play at The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, from 7pm to late.

People will also take part in a duck race on Sunday in Evesham before parading up Bridge Street and into Market Place for more performances from 11.30am.

The top prize of the weekend – the Evesham Stick – will also be presented by the Mayor of Evesham in the afternoon.

Organiser Geoffrey Watkins said he was hoping for good weather for the fun-filled event.

“It will be quite a good display with all the different outfits,” he said. “We’ve got quite a lot of people coming. It’s a spectacle, it’s nice to see different sides from other parts of the country.

“It’s a tradition that goes back a few hundred years. It’s nice to see those people carry on these traditions with their regalia.”

The event, which was launched in 2006 by a group of friends who all danced with various Morris sides, was created to develop the Morris presence at Evesham’s annual Asparagus festival.

Last year’s winners of the Evesham Stick – judged on dancing skills, turnout, band and audience reaction and general “joie de vivre” – were the Gong Scourers.

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