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Thousands attend Bewdley's first Wassail Festival
8:00am Friday 11th January 2013 in Local
THOUSANDS of people flocked to a traditional event in Bewdley to celebrate the health of fruit trees and ensure their growth.
A total of 3,797 residents and visitors attended the Wassail Festival, which was held for the first time in the town last Saturday.
The purpose of Wassailing was originally to awake the trees and to scare away evil spirits for a good harvest in the autumn.
Crowds of people filled the town’s streets and shouted “Wassail” as a torch-lit parade, led by Bewdley Mayor John Latham, travelled from Gardeners Meadow.
Followed by Morris dance group Wytchwood and local pupils, the parade made its way along Severnside South and Load Street before arriving at the community orchard, in Jubilee Gardens where the Wassail took place.
Ellie Hooper, event organiser, said the procession created a “great spectacle”.
“The morris dancers blackened their faces, wore rag jackets and sung traditional songs,” she said.
The Wyre Forest-based dancers also performed some of their moves in the gardens, while leading the Wassail.
The successful event, funded by Wyre Forest District Council, was coordinated by the Bewdley Development Trust and museum.
Alison Bakr, the museum’s development officer, said “The money was allocated for the Christmas period to get people into the town.
“This event proved there was a need to bring people into Bewdley for a celebration. It was the first time the Wassail was held in Bewdley and it was hugely successful. We hope to build on it for next year.”
Visitors tucked into food provided by local producers and mulled apple juice from the Bewdley Apple Co-op.
Ms Hooper said they were “overwhelmed” by the number of people who turned out and were looking forward to holding the event again next year.
She added: “This was another fantastic community event where locals, visitors, children of all ages and adults turned up and proved what a great town we have.”