Corn Riots march to be recreated

ISLANDERS are being invited to walk in the footsteps of reformers – who in 1769 helped fashion the independence of the States Assembly – as part of a four-day festival organisers say could become an annual celebration of Jersey’s identity.

Deputies Montfort Tadier and Kirsten Morel discuss the Corn Riots festival Picture: JON GUEGAN
Deputies Montfort Tadier and Kirsten Morel discuss the Corn Riots festival Picture: JON GUEGAN

On Sunday 26 September at 4pm participants will gather at Trinity Church to walk to the Royal Square, recreating a march that ultimately led to the legal reforms in the Code of 1771. Its 250th anniversary is celebrated this year with a one-off bank holiday on 27 September secured by a former assistant minister who was once responsible for culture, Deputy Montfort Tadier.

He welcomed the four-day Corn Riots festival as an opportunity ‘to put Jersey on the map as somewhere to come at the end of September not just for beautiful views but for a great cultural experience’.

The event incorporates the traditional celebration of the Island’s historic language – the Fête du Jèrriais – and a more recent French Festival but Deputy Tadier stressed that it was ‘a showcase of all that makes Jersey unique and is a celebration of our diverse and complex cultural identity’.

The Deputy’s successor who now has political responsibility for culture, Deputy Kirsten Morel, is also part of the group that has co-ordinated the event. He said that he hoped the festival – subtitled in Jèrriais La Folle d’Avoût, or the harvest madness – would send a signal to Islanders about how important arts and culture was to our recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

‘The festivities are both a commemoration of the past and of Jersey’s cultural spirit in the present and into the future. I’d like to see Jersey become a vibrant place for artists to work and make a good living, and I’d also like us all to know more about our Island’s political and cultural histories. Festivals such as this play an important part in achieving those goals,’ Deputy Morel said.

Although the festival runs officially from 24 to 27 September, it is framed by other events such as the traditional Norman market at the Weighbridge. Included in the main programme is music from Badlabecques, pétanque and other games, exhibitions, talks and a relay of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus from Rennes Opera.

On 25 September artist Kerry-Jane Warner will lead a series of banner-making workshops to create props for the walk to the Royal Square the following day. After the arrival of the parade, proceedings in the square will then include dancing and an open-air screening of Les Misérables. The full programme is available on the website.

In 2012 the States accepted parts of a proposition brought by former Deputy Trevor Pitman that recognised 28 September, the anniversary of the corn riots, as Reform Day but there had been little agreement over how this should be marked until Deputy Tadier’s successful proposition to recognise this year’s 250th anniversary with a bank holiday on 27 September.

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