The first May Day Procession in 3 years took place in Milford & Makeney on Saturday 7th May 2022. The event has traditionally run annually for the past 40 years and is one of the highlights of the social calendar for the village, but the Covid pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events. Today it was back with a vengeance and, helped by lovely weather and a huge turnout, was undoubtedly a success, with great fun had by all.
The festivities began at 11 am with people gathering at the Holly Bush Inn in Makeney. At 11.30 Green Man James “Jam” Gouldthorpe formally started the proceedings. We were treated to dances by the Black Pigs Morris dancers from Awsworth, accompanied by their own band and local melodeon player Alan Squires, dances by local ladies dance troupe The Maids of The Mill, Maypole dancing by local school children (and a rather chaotic attempt by local adults!) and even a Fire Eater (Gregory O’Regan)!
The Maids of The Mill excelled themselves this year, they returned as Daleks following their highly successful appearance as them a decade ago. Kept under control by our very own Dr Who, they settled just for Milford domination rather than world domination!
At 12.45 the crowd then processed down Makeney Road, the A6 and Little Fallows to the car park of the Riverside Business Park, led as usual by the Maypole carried by Jake & Nick Everett. Riverside florists provided the lovely flowers for the top of the Maypole, though somehow a couple found their way into Nick’s ears! Permission was granted from Amber Valley Borough Council to close Holly Bush Lane and Makeney Road to allow the procession through, and the organisers would like to thank residents for their patience and Peak 4×4 and Belper Town Council for helping with the closure. It certainly made for a much safer procession along these roads.
At the Riverside car park the Black Pig Morris and Maids of The Mill/Daleks did their dances again, the Maypole was danced round by the school children and the Fire Eater performed again. We were also able to purchase very welcome ice creams from the Just Ice bicycle that had been booked for the occasion and use their shop for toilet facilities/to buy more ice cream. The organisers had been disappointed by a low turnout when the procession came here 8 years ago, but not this time; many people came down from the nearby houses and it proved to be a very child friendly stop, with plenty of safe space for them to run around and walls to sit on. Belper Town Mayor John Porter also attended the procession – witness the rather surreal picture of him with the Black Pig Morris!
The procession then wended its way back to The Strutt Arms, where there was more Black Pig Morris, Maids of The Mill and Maypole dancing. The Strutt Arms, in addition to its normal menu, laid on a kiosk for us serving pizza and chip butties.
Finally the procession moved to its 3pm finish at Milford School, in time for the start of the School Fair/more drinks in The Social Club, and more dancing in the school playground. The School Fair and the plant stall outside both reported high takings for the PTA and Blooming Milford respectively, so thank you for your support.
Overall a highly successful and enjoyable day – plans are already being made for May Day 2023, so see you next year!