Rochester Sweeps Festival
As so often happens these days, a brief mention of this year’s forthcoming annual Sweeps Festival here in Rochester on Twitter this evening got me looking through my old photos and videos.
This is a video which I recorded at the 2010 event to get you in the mood:
If you have never experienced the Rochester Sweeps Festival, all I can say is you don’t know what you’re missing!
This is a unique celebration of the coming of Spring, which also commemorates the traditional holiday for chimney sweeps, or climbing boys as they were also known.
Over the space of three days, Rochester plays host to a number of Morris sides or ‘sets’, culminating in the folk music concerts which are held in the grounds of the historic Rochester Castle. This year Rochester will welcome such folk luminaries a Barbara Dickson and Rory McLeod to Rochester
Over a number of years, since the festival was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton, the festival has gone from strength to strength incorporating a number of different elements, all of which celebrate the unique English identity and culture. Not being English myself, I am happy to be corrected on this if anyone would like to get in touch and share their insights into the evolution of the event.
I for one am glad that we still continue to support and encourage these festivals here in Medway. It was one of the major attractions which brought me here with my family in the first place, and I am glad, now in my role as a councillor, that we are continuing to support these events which celebrate not just our cultural and, some would say, pagan heritage, but which also do so much to highlight all that is good about the Medway Towns.
Medway gets a lot of undeserved bad press in my humble opinion, but I would defy any of our critics to come along on this weekend and not enjoy and get ‘swept up’ in the wonderful atmosphere here in Rochester. The Sweeps Festival is Medway at its best, and I hope you will join us for the celebrations in 2012!
PS I did once make enquiries about joining a local Morris set, but decided against as I wasn’t too sure I could handle my ale…