The ‘Sham Fight’ at Scarva on July 13 is now widely recognised as a unique cultural event in the Northern Ireland tourist and social calendar.
The loyalist extravaganza is the biggest one-day celebration at a single location in Northern Ireland and this year Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council and Tourism Northern Ireland are backing an event which attracts up to 100,000 people.
The parade of 5,000 members of the Royal Black Institution and the ‘Sham Fight’, a mock battle re-enactment of the Battle of the Boyne on the lawns of Scarvagh House, are the main attractions on Wednesday.
Organisers of the Scarva event are the local Sir Alfred Buller Memorial RBP No 1000, whose Worshipful Master is Sandy Heak.
“We start work on the Sham Fight the week after the previous one. It is an incredible team effort. We aim to give people who come to see it a memorable day out for all the family.
“There is pageantry, history, music and a strong Christian ethos at the heart of the Royal Black Institution,” said Mr Heak.
The parade of 90 preceptories and bands begins at Banbridge Road at 11.15am, moving along Main Street to Scarvagh Demense where the ‘Sham Fight’ takes place.
Top category flute, accordion, silver and pipe bands are a feature of the Scarva parade and four Scottish bands are also expected.
Districts taking part are Tandragee, Markethill, Newry, Banbridge, Portadown, Rathfriland and Lower Iveagh. Individual preceptories from Mourne, Londonderry, Limavady, Belfast and counties Tyrone and Fermanagh will be on parade.
Platform proceedings will be conducted by David Livingstone, the Black Institution’s Grand Treasurer.
Worship will be led by Rev John Batchelor, Imperial Deputy Grand Chaplain, and the preacher Stephen Kennedy, a member of Bessbrook Crimson Arrow RBP No 38, Newry District.
Mr Kennedy is assistant minister in Hill Street Presbyterian Church, Lurgan.
Resolutions will be proposed by Millar Farr, the Institution’s Sovereign Grand Master, and William Scott, Grand Registrar.
The armies of King William and King James will have new uniforms for this year’s ‘Sham Fight’. About 24 local re-enactors take part and John Adair makes a 25th appearance as ‘William’.
On Wednesday, Lurgan Black District Chapter No 2 will take part in an annual parade in Bangor. Fifteen preceptories and eight bands will parade from Castle Park Avenue at 11.30am. They will also have morning and evening parades in Lurgan.
King William’s troops camped at Scarva and nearby Loughbrickland in June, 1690 before they moved to the Battle of the Boyne. In Scarvagh Demense there is a huge Spanish chestnut tree under which King William, the Prince of Orange, and his generals are reported to have slept the night. Every year on July 13 re-enactors from the local Royal Black preceptory in Scarva play out the ‘Sham Fight’, a mock battle where the Wiliamite and Jacobite ‘forces’ meet up on the lawns of Scarvagh Demesne. The affray always results in a triumph for the Williamite forces to the great delight of the assembled gathering of loyalists.
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