Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Saturday was Mazey Day in Penzance. This is our annual community extravaganza, now celebrating its twentieth year as a 'modern' festival. It is timed for the feast of St John (23 June) who is the patron saint of Penzance. Midsummer was celebrated all over Cornwall and there seems to have been a lot of emphasis on fires as these continued the celebration of the pagan festival of midsummer. It was very big in Penzance but it all got rather out of control with the usual 'louts' setting fire to things they shouldn't have, so in 1877 it was banned. The idea of a chain of hill-top fires was apparently revived in 1929 but I have only ever heard of these happening on very special occasions such as Millennium.Eve. However, more recently Penzance has revived the customs with a week long festival called Golowan (from the Cornish word for midsummer which drives from Gol Jowan meaning John's feast. The fireworks are confined to a display by the harbour at 11.15 pm on the Friday. Fond though I am of fireworks I am of an age where I just listen to them!
However, I do join most of the population in spending Saturday in Penzance.
This year we were blessed with wonderful weather but someone told me on Saturday that in 1991 the inaugural parades were ruined by rain. No-one knew that you needed to protect the constructions and their clothes by sealing them with acrylic so everything was ruined by paint pouring down. Mazey Day is a great occasion for photographers which includes me but I had a slight disaster this year. After only a few shots my camera had something of a nervous breakdown and proceeded to photograph everything in black and white. I didn't discover this until I got home and reviewed the photos and I still cannot work out how it happened since that command is buried deep in the menu. As the main attraction of the day is all the colour I am afraid the photos to illustrate this posting are not what I had planned and I have cheated by including a couple from last year. You will have to Google to see other people's efforts. (There are hundreds of sites so too many to put a link)
The main focus of the day is a series of parades involving all the schools and community organisations. Each year there is a theme (this year it was the Wild West) and each school/organisation makes the most incredible 'floats' that are held aloft by fathers and others. I was glad that I got a coloured photo of the one I think was this year's best.
These blue horses were made by Mounts Bay Secondary School. The children carry hand held versions of butterflies, fish (always lots of these) insects etc. to illustrate the topic they have chosen.
Here is one of this year's floats which was bright green and covered in various insects.
And here is the Mousehole Cat in 2009.
In between the school entries there are bands, groups from voluntary organisations
and a number of 'characters' such as this clown
The Mazey Day band leads the parades
and there are a several dance groups that perform around the town during the day and also join in the processions.
In between the parades there is a traditional street market to enjoy. The streets are decorated with banners and there are live performances at various points. This is Chapel Street, the oldest street.
A traditional funfair spends the weekend down by the Jubilee Pool so that it is also there for Quay Day on Sunday. Quay Day used to be a fair in olden days and was apparently more for the rural people than the townspeople but now it is a second day of fun with many of the same performers and activities such as toy boat races.
There is a 'tradition' of banner making with banner making workshops in the weeks leading up to Golowan. In addition to banners across the streets, others, usually made by children, are pinned to the railings. I liked this image of a mother leaning into the area where the parade was assembling, trying to see her child.
This was the scene as the third and final procession assembled outside St Johns Hall. I left after that and I am afraid that this year I did not make it to Quay Day so there are no photos of that.