Rallying cry to replace Whit Friday band contests

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 25 March 2020

A rallying call has gone out across a community compelled to cancel  its annual “greatest free show on earth” because of the coronavirus crackdown .

The Saddleworth Whit Friday Brass Band Contests brings thousands of fun-loving families to the villages to share the colourful spectacular. 

The event was planned for Friday, June 5, but it has been cancelled for only the second time in more than 100 years.

Carol Oldham is now calling for a ‘Saddleworth Day of Music’, asking people across the community to post films on social medía.

She said: "Whit Friday is one of my favourite days of the year.

"When I heard the band contest had been unfortunately cancelled I wanted to do something to carry on the tradition.

"So on June 5 I am calling for people across Saddleworth to post films on social media.

"It can be of themseves playing traditional brass or any instrument including the human voice so long as they use the hashtag #Saddleworthdayofmusic

"We want June 5 to be a day of music and celebration."

Last year, 119 bands competed for the individual contest prizes at 11 locations in Saddleworth and Oldham, as well as the overall area prizes.

The event was cancelled in 1884 and then last century during the wars but otherwise has been a constant fixture in locals’ diaries (Delph missed one in 1956 due to financial circumstances).

Robert  Rogers, on behalf of the Saddleworth Area Contests, confirmed all 11 contests are cancelled.

Cllr Jamie Curley, chair of Saddleworth parish council, said: ”The  spirit of Saddleworth and Whit Friday is not beaten and I have had a discussion with Greenfield contest Chairman Frank Rothwell and if we are able we will organise a musical event for Greenfield later this year to bring some of the spirit of Whit Friday back and let the sounds of brass resonate through the valley again.”

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