Barwick-in-Elmet Maypole Festival

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The triennial Barwick-in-Elmet Maypole Festival was enjoyed by crowds of people on May Spring Bank Holiday. With the sun shining after many days of rain, there was a packed programme of entertainment and activities organised by the Barwick-in-Elmet Maypole Trust. 

The day started with the ‘raising of the maypole’ at around 10am. The 1.2 tonne 86ft long maypole was carried by volunteers from the Hall Tower to The Gascoigne Arms. The maypole was finally erected by a crane after a couple of rope adjustments and last minute hole digging. This amazing feat of engineering in such a small area was witnessed by eager spectators from as safe a distance as possible!


The event then kicked off with a street market featuring stalls selling various crafts, jewellery, and the all-important cakes and treats. The stalls were very popular and a great way for local artists to showcase their creations.

At 1pm the traditional and much anticipated Maypole Queen’s Procession led by Clive Gabriel (local pub landlord) made its way down the Main Street in a fanfare of colour, local school children, the Harrogate Band and of course the Maypole Queen. This year’s Queen was Lily Hawkhead aged 11 who looked lovely in her Maypole Queen outfit.

The Hall Tower Field had lots going on including a funfair and a 30ft climbing tower. The children from Barwick-in-Elmet C of E school treated spectators to a variety of Maypole dances. All the children performed wonderfully, making beautiful patterns from the colourful ribbons of the (somewhat smaller!) maypole.

Even dog lovers were catered for at the festival with the Calverley Chasers Flyball races. The dogs showcased their amazing skill and speed in the two, twenty minute relay races. The incredible speed in which the dogs race over several hurdles, retrieve a ball and race back again was astounding to see!

There was plenty of music on the day too. The ‘Four Hundred Roses’ performed tribal style bellydance to Folk Music at the maypole which proved to be a unique blend and worked surprisingly well. The ladies looked fabulous in their colourful costumes.

The Harrogate Brass Band played music with a war time theme to mark the centenary of the First World War which was enjoyed by all, as well as the song ‘Barwick Green’. This is of course the well-known theme tune to the radio soap opera “The Archers” and was named after the village by Arthur Wood, a Yorkshire composer. Fittingly, the tune is also a maypole dance!

The festival came to a close with the very brave and daring Chris Brown who ascended the maypole in order to spin the fox weather vane on the top. This is a long tradition thought to bring luck to the village. After a successful and thoroughly enjoyable day, let’s hope that the tradition of the triennial festival continues for many more years to come!


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