Thousands of people from across Oldham and beyond are set to enjoy a spectacular day of free entertainment at the world famous Whit Friday band contests on Friday 29th May.
Dubbed locally as ‘the greatest free show on earth’, this traditional event dates back to an earliest-recorded contest in 1884. Contests will run across 11 Saddleworth villages from around 4pm until 10.30pm – following on from the traditional morning ‘Whit Walks’. To ensure everyone, residents and visitors alike, can enjoy the day in safety several months of planning has taken place between partners.
Councillor Jim McMahon, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “The Whit Friday Band contests are one of the highlights of the year. Thanks to the huge efforts made by the contest organisers and volunteers the event has been successful year on year and has firmly put the event on the musical map.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming bands and visitors from across the Uk and Europe, to this fabulous free show. We even had one person who had travelled from Japan last year.
“It is vital we all support major events like this because they contribute to our tourism and events industry, which is worth more than £240m and supports 3,000 jobs in Oldham. We’ve been working for months with the organisers and partners, such as Greater Manchester Police, to ensure that we have all the right traffic diversions, stewarding and policing arrangements in place to make the event successful. The simple message is for people to act responsibly and have a great day.”
Greater Manchester Police Chief Superintendent Catherine Hankinson who is commander for the day, said: “The Saddleworth Band Contest is a great event for all of the family. The contest has a history in the area and with that in mind we are proud to work with the organisers to ensure that it is a fun, safe and enjoyable event for all involved.
“We want everyone attending to enjoy the day but we also want to send a clear message about the policing operation that will be in place. Our officers on the ground will deal robustly with anyone found behaving antisocially, drinking to excess or involved in crime. It is our responsibility as a police service to protect vulnerable members of the community and as part of this operation we will be doing just that. Any alcohol found with underage youngsters will be seized and our licensing officers will be working on the day to advise parents on the dangers of alcohol if they identify any children under its influence.”
Once the music has stopped there’s also a huge clean-up operation implemented where council staff, working alongside an army of volunteers, clear away litter and empty street bins so that things can return to normal as quickly as possible.
The Saddleworth and Lees District Executive has been closely involved in organising the event and its’ members have again given a significant financial contribution from their devolved funding from Oldham Council towards the costs of prizes, stewarding and other vital amenities.
Some road restrictions are in force in the area from 4pm until midnight on May 13. These have been signposted in advance. Event stewards or police are also on hand at venues if motorists need help. For more information see: Notices inSaddleworth
GMP 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. Any young person suspected to be in possession of alcohol may be searched. Anyone aware of young people planning to bring alcohol to the band contest is asked to report this to the police by calling 101. You do not need to provide any personal details.
For more background information on the band contests visit: http://www.whitfriday.brassbands.saddleworth.org/intro.html
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