19th Annual Minnesota MidWinter Sword & Mumming Ale
The 2004 Minnesota MidWinter Ale
was hosted by Uptown-on-Calhoun Morris.
The ale was held Saturday, January
17, 2004, when the balmy breezes float
out of Manitoba through our fair cities
and bring a spring to every dance
What is it?
The MidWinter Ale is a seasonal celebration
based on British folk traditions.
Mummers (colorfully garbed play-actors)
re-enact the death and rebirth of
-- take your pick -- the Sun, St.
George, various other holy figures,
or some unsuspecting sap in the audience.
The Border dancers race into the area,
dressed in rags and sometimes covered
in chimney soot, and proceed to do
dances that involve a lot of simulated
violence -- crashing large sticks
against each other, yelling, and leaping
to great heights, all to the melodic
accompaniment of accordion, drum,
recorder, or what-have-you. The sword
dancers show their skill by energetically
and gracefully avoiding injury while
wielding weapons (to similar musical
accompaniment).Various other performers
-- ranging from meek garland dancers
to fierce dragons -- may entertain
in other ways. The assembled company
also is known to break into song.
In short, it's a great portable street
party, and who needs one better than
a bunch of Minnesotans in the middle
Where is it?
The ale is a set of roving performances,
with stops in various parts of Minneapolis
and St. Paul. The performers move
in groups to different locations,
where they stage short (30 - 45 minute)
shows. In the past, performances have
been at the Science Museum, Town Square
Park, the St. Paul Public Library,
the Children's Museum, Edgerton Senior
Residence, Shriner's Hospital (for
patients only), the Linden Hills (Minneapolis)
Library and other places. The tour
schedule for 2004 will not be finalized
until December, but will likely include
some familiar spots. Suggestions for
pub stops are greatly appreciated.
Public performances will be given
throughout Saturday, from morning
until late afternoon.
Are you a business owner or site event
coordinator that would like some really
unusual entertainment? We jingle,
we jangle, we sing and jump and generally
create quite a lively scene. And cheap,
too. If you are in our general area
and would like us to stop by (either
on this weekend or another time),
send us some email. (Really special
deals for brewpub owners.)
Participation is open to all British-tradition
performing groups - mummers, dancers,
singers, etc. We are not equipped
to deal with musical groups that require
equipment setup, however.
As in past years, there is no registration
fee for this event, but we do ask
teams (or individual performers) to
send in a registration form, so we
can plan the tours. Out-of-towners
are greatly welcome and will be provided
places to stay upon request. If you
have participated in the past couple
of years, you will automatically be
notified. If you haven't, but would
like to participate, please get in
touch with the Ale Czarina (email
In past years, there has been some
sort of gathering Friday night, a
pot-luck and sing (ceili) on Saturday,
and a brunch on Sunday morning. This
year's schedule has not been set.
Tours are all day Saturday.
More Info/Registration, etc.
For ale information or registration,
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