The spring sunshine may have decided to take a break on Saturday but it failed to cast a shadow over the 23rd Marsden Cuckoo Festival.
And nor did the April showers dampen the spirits of the performers or the hundreds of people who saw the village’s streets and venues come alive with dancers, musicians and other performers.
The event was established to highlight the local legend that discovering the first cuckoo of the year signalled spring had begun.
Marsdeners, also nicknamed Cuckoos, began to celebrate the event in the hope that good weather would come. They tried to build a tower around the cuckoo to ensure spring would remain but the bird flew away as the last stones were being laid.
There were craft stalls to browse and plenty of places to get delicious homemade cake and lunches – with the two churches, the scout group plus others making sure no one went hungry. The library ran workshops both morning and afternoon with a whole flock of cuckoos being made to carry proudly during the day and to join in the procession later.
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The Junior Band got the performances underway at 11am playing outside the Mechanics Hall and was followed by a packed programme of entertainment.
Local groups such as the Infant School Choir, Unity Voices, Mucipups Ukulele, the Belly Dancers, Laughter Yoga and the Thieving Magpie were joined by the Frumptarn Guggen band, Colne Valley Music Centre, Spiral Dancers Maypole Team and visiting dance sides Saddleworth Clog & Garland, Fiddle & Feet, Raving Maes, Oakenhoof and Whip the Cat Rapper to perform at venues around the village.
In addition there were donkey rides and stalls in Marsden Park, crafts with Lawrence Batley Theatre, face-painting and community zentangle drawing in the Mechanics, children’s rides and the Colne Valley Lions coconut shy on the green.
Vintage engines at St Bartholomew’s and demonstrations by the Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team outside the United Church completed the entertainment.
Then just before 3pm everyone flocked to Wessen Court to gather for the procession.
The Giant Cuckoo and Nathandrial the Marsden giant led the procession escorted by the Thieving Magpie dance side.
Leading the music was Marsden Silver Prize Band, followed by youngsters from the two schools proudly carrying the banners they’d made with the National Trust.
The fun continued with the Duck Race at 4pm where 1,000 plastic ducks vied for victory along the river. The first 16 ducks past the post won their owners one of the fabulous prizes that had been donated by local businesses.
One of the organisers, Sharon Turner, said: “If you want to make sure you don’t miss next year’s celebration get the date in your diary now: Saturday, 23rd April 2016 – Cuckoo would be delighted to see you there.”