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There are many traditional customs associated with 1st of May, many of which have their origins in pagan times. The Gaelic festival of Beltane for example marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. It may well be that the passage of a load of old cows over Barming Bridge as they were put out to pasture was the inspiration for Kettle Bridge's May Day celebration. Who knows?
The area down by the bridge at the bottom of South Street does tend to accumulate large puddles after any rain and, in years gone by, this has necessitated a big effort to clear a space for dancing — and spectating, for that matter. This year, Ian went down and dug a drainage channel which meant that the area was pretty clear by the evening of 1st May. Many thanks for that, Ian!
As this event marks the official start of our dancing season, it is often the first time that our novice dancers dance out in public and this year it was Nick's turn to go through the initiation ceremony. She did extremely well and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.
The format for our May Day event is nearly always the same. This year however we had the added bonus of a Kent Messenger in attendance and he took numerous pictures. One of these even made it into the KM webpage about May Day celebrations. Click here to see it.
There was quite a good crowd assembled at the bridge as the clock ticked round to 7:15pm, the traditional start time. Bang on cue, the dancers processed over the bridge from south to north, dancing Churchtown as they went, with the musicians (and Margaret with the banner) following on behind.
Next up were performances of KBC Processional, Marston 6, Sidcot and Lostock. Between dances, the musicians kept the crowd entertained including Alan Austen singing a traditional May Day song for us. As usual, we ended the stand with an audience participation version of Churchtown, always a firm favourite.
Talking of favourites, thanks go to Val for providing the annual Kettle Bridge May Day cake which always goes down well.
Part 2 of the celebrations was held up at The Bull with a short stand comprising Aughton 8, Blackrod and Churchtown. By now, even the candle on Eva's birthday cake was not enough to keep us warm so we all dived into the pub to continue the merriment with playing and singing.
And that was it for another year!