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Shepherdstown brings in May with celebration

By Staff | May 5, 2017

Throughout the world on the first of May, people celebrate the coming of summer with revelry to wake up the earth from it’s winter slumber and induce it to fertility by singing, dancing, waving ribbons or hankies, clashing sticks, carrying wands or garlands of green and the ringing of bells. In Shepherdstown, the May will be celebrated on Saturday with activities originating from some of the traditional British May customs. All are invited to celebrate with music, dancing and such revelry as will occur.

May Day starts at around 8 a.m. on the McMurran Lawn where the maypole will be set up after the sun rises. Those who are curious can watch for the revelry about town, as dancers from far and wide gather and get ready for the noonday celebration. There will be a performance on King Street at 10 a.m. before all line up for the parade Church Street.

Musicians, dancers, actors, poets, maidens dressed in spring attire and merry revelers of all sorts are invited to participate. Be part of the magic as the town welcomes the spring with this beautiful annual celebration.

At 10:30, groups will line up for the processional parade on the corner of Church and German streets. All are encouraged to take part in the parade. Mothers and daughters are encouraged to parade together in colorful spring finery. Floats, decorated strollers, wagons or bicycles are also welcome. Civic groups can display festive banners, craftsmen and farmers carry their tools, any who wish can bring boughs of green or young saplings and be part of the “walking forest!” Join with musicians, morris dancers and merry revelers as they play the traditional tune Winster Processional and the morris dancers dance down the street with sticks, garlands, swords, bells and waving hankies. Maypoles, wands, costumes and garlands of greenery and flowers are highly recommended for all participants.

The parade starts down German Street at 11 a.m. and proceeds to the 22 foot tall maypole which has been erected on the McMurran Lawn. There will be a short ceremony featuring music, dance, pageantry and perhaps a mummers play and culminate in the dance which wraps the maypole. Performers include the Shepherdstown Morris Minors, Mason-Dixon Border Morris from Washington, DC, and our own local morris dance group, the Shepherdstown Hicks with Sticks Border Morris. There will be appearances by local dignitaries, the green man, the Padstow Hobby horse and other mystical creatures.

On going morris dance will happen throughout the afternoon, including a performance at the Rumsey Monument at around 3p.m. and around 5 p.m. again on King Street, which will feature show dances by each of the visiting groups hosted by our home teams.

The schedule, when formalized, will be published on the Shepherdstown May Day web page at www.smad.us/mayday.

For more information see the Shepherdstown Music and Dance web page at www.smad.us or call Joanie Blanton at 304-263-2531 or email updf@earthlink.net.