Throughout the world on the first of May, people celebrate the coming of summer with dances and revelry to wake up the earth from its slumber and induce it to fertility. Singing, dancing, waving ribbons and hankies, gathering May blossoms, carrying wands or garlands of green and ringing bells all help kill off old man winter for the season and induce fertility in the crops and livesock. This is the magic of the May revels.
In Shepherdstown, May Day will be celebrated Saturday, night, May 4 with a Contra Dance at the War Memorial Building. Kim Forrey will call both squares and contras to the music of Ricochet, with Walter Hodjka on fiddle and Rya Martin on piano. Kim ill be callling and teaching a wide variety of dances all done in easy walking steps. There will be a free beginners workshop at 7:30 p.m. and the dance begins at 8. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for members. Beginners are advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing and clean, soft-soled shoes to protect the dance floor. This will be the last dance of the season. Dances will resume in September.
On Sunday, May 5 with a parade will be followed by dances, music and the weaving of the Maypole ceremony, originating from some of the traditional British May customs.
All are invited to celebrate. To participate in the parade, follow these guidelines: Clothing worn in the process is new or brightly colored to indicate the changing of the year. Men are encouraged to wear bright ribbons tied at the elbows or wrists of their shirts or as baldrics; hats should also be decorated with greenery or flowers. Women will wear gay dresses and bedeck themselves with garlands of flowers. All carry wands, garlands, globes of greenery, May bunches or wear crowns of greenery or flowers.
Traditional costumes of Jack in the Green, Lord and lady of May, characters from Shakespeare, fools, Betties (men dressed as women), tree spirits, hobby horses or mythical characters are strongly encouraged. Banners, floats, wagons and other non-motorized celebratory vehicles are welcome.
For more information or to participate in the parade, contact Terry Tucker at 304-876-3552 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The parade schedule for May 6 includes Morris Dancing on King Street at 10 a.m. with the line up of the parade to begin on Church Street at 12:30 for a 1 p.m. start. The parade will travel German Street to the May Pole.
General revelry will follow on the green of McMurran Hall lawn. Sellengers Round, Morris Dances, Mayday Song, poetry and more will take place. Each team will perform something under the May Pole. The celebration culminates with dancers and guests stepping to music while wrapping or weaving the May Pole. There will be appearances by Mayor Jim Auxer, the Green Man, the Padstow Hobby Horse and other mystical creatures.
Ongoing Morris dancing will happen after lunch at 4 p.m. on the outdoor patio of the Bavarian Inn and a final performance on King Street at 5 p.m.