Diggle Band, Whit Friday (Photo: Stuart Coleman©2013)

Thousands of people are set to enjoy a spectacular day of free entertainment at the famous Whit Friday band contests in Saddleworth.

Oldham Council has been providing organisational help and financial support to ensure the 2013 Saddleworth and Lees contests hit the high notes once again.

This traditional event dates back to an earliest-recorded contest in 1884 and is dubbed ‘the greatest free show on earth’. Contests will run across 12 villages from around 4.00pm until 10.30pm or later on Friday May 24th, following on from the traditional ‘Whit Walks’ in the morning.

The organisation of these contests takes several months of close discussion and work with partners to ensure all families, residents and visitors alike, can enjoy them in total safety. Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Business and Town Centres, said, “The band contests are a fantastic showcase for our Borough and a top highlight in our cultural calendar. It takes months of close working with the organisers and partners like Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to ensure that we have all the right traffic diversions, stewarding and policing arrangements in place to make it such a success.

“Immediately after the event there’s also a huge clean-up operation to undertake where, working alongside an army of volunteers, we clear away street litter and empty local bins so that everything can return to normal as quickly as possible.

We are all delighted to be welcoming bands and visitors from across the country and Europe again to a fabulous free show that really puts our Borough on the map.”

The Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership has again been closely involved in organising the event and its’ members have contributed around £15,000 of their devolved funding from Oldham Council towards the costs of prizes, stewarding and other vital amenities.

Councillor Barbara Beeley, Chair of the District Partnership, said, “The Whit Friday band contests are the biggest annual free event in Saddleworth and Lees and the huge effort made by the contest organisers and volunteers is to be applauded, whatever the weather.”

“There are always challenges and we’ve worked closely with the contest organisers and other parties to ensure our community promotes a positive image of our area and, as ever, our priority is to ensure that everyone enjoys the event in safety. The simple message is for people to enjoy themselves but to please act responsibly and with respect for others, have a great evening!”

Some road restrictions are in force in the area from 4pm until midnight on May 24th. These have been signposted two weeks in advance. Event stewards or police are also on hand at venues if motorists need help.

Greater Manchester Police officers will be in attendance across the various contests. They advise all parents to keep in touch with children throughout the day so that you know where they are, who they are with and when you can expect them to return home.



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