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Event Hosting – MF AGM and DoD – a Guide

Notes on hosting the MF AGM & Showcase Day of Dance

Thank you for considering hosting the Morris Federation AGM and Showcase Day of Dance.  Please read these notes before committing yourself and your team.  If you have any questions about any aspect of the event, please get in touch with the Treasurer, or any Morris Federation committee member.

Please note that much of the material in these notes is of a fairly obvious nature, covering the sort of problems that many teams have already faced when organising their own events.  However, we have included this information for completeness.  Something you find obvious may not appear so to another team and vice versa.

The usual format in recent years has been a Saturday walking tour followed by the AGM meeting. A ticketed ceilidh and a pub session in the evening and a Sunday dance spot have also been organised.


The AGM and its associated day of dance are organised by a member team, on behalf of the Morris Federation.  This means that there will be differences between this event and any dance events that you organise for yourselves.

The Morris Federation takes full financial responsibility for the AGM meeting and Showcase Day of Dance, profit or loss.  This means that the committee will need to be involved with all the financial decisions.  This is discussed in detail in the finances section of these guidelines. 

The AGM is the only occasion during the year that the Morris Federation as a whole gets together.  This means that you are not able to choose who is going to come.  It is open to all members up to whatever is your capacity limit. The AGM event is “sold” through the newsletter, broadcast emails and social media.

The Morris Federation committee needs to know what is going on. Your Morris Federation committee contact should keep in regular contact with you and brief the rest of the Morris Federation committee.

Your Morris Federation committee contact will probably arrange a meeting with you at some early stage in your preparations.  This is a chance to share enthusiasms, discuss plans, and point out any potential problems.  There is no need for the whole of your team to attend, an organising committee will be fine.

The Morris Federation committee is available to help you, so please use them.  You will have a dedicated Morris Federation committee contact person but, if you have any worries, problems or panics – get in touch with any of us!

Organising Committee

Depending on the complexity of arrangements, it’s a good idea to set up a special AGM committee.  Decide what jobs need doing and split all volunteers up into each area. It’s best to have just one person ‘in charge’ overall – they can also be the main contact … only use one contact name on any information sent out.  Ideally the AGM committee would meet once a month, to ensure that all areas are covered and nothing gets forgotten. Your Morris Federation committee contact can be invited to these meetings if you wish.


The actual date of the event is decided at an earlier AGM.  It is usually on the Saturday of the last weekend in September.

There are three dates that you will need to decide for yourselves. 

The first is when to send out the invitations.  This is usually as early as possible in the year, you will need to supply the invitation to your Morris Federation committee contact who will arrange to have it sent out

The second date is the last date for cheap bookings.  It is customary to give people a small discount for booking early, in a vain attempt to get some idea of numbers as early as possible.  This is usually at the end of June or the beginning of July.  Do not panic if you do not have many booked in by this date, it varies a lot from year to year, but many teams are never that organised.

The final date is the cut-off date.  This is to give you definite numbers a couple of weeks before the event.  After this date bookings or refunds are entirely at your discretion.  Someone will always try to book in later than this, but you can turn them down with no regrets if it is not possible to fit them in.



The Secretary has examples of the booking forms and other hand–outs used in previous years.  However well you design the booking form, someone will misunderstand it and fill it in wrongly.  Please let your Morris Federation committee contact, or the Secretary, see the form before it is finalised.

The form should include:

  • how many people a team is bringing;
  • what part of the event they are staying for;
  • the ages of any children;
  • details of the kit or style of dance of the team;
  • if there are any teams they do (or do not) want to be on tour with
  • and for joint teams, whether they will have one or two dancing sides each wanting a spot

The booking forms are sent out, along with supporting information, by broadcast email to contacts of member teams.  The supporting information must include the contact details of the contact for your team.  Your Committee contact will arrange to have them sent out to the membership.


When people book, send them an acknowledgment (by email will suffice).  Nearer the date of the event, follow this up with final instructions, directions and maps.  People like to know who else is coming to the event.  If possible, list the attending teams on this mailing information.


Do not forget that some people will be coming for the AGM only, and they will need maps and so on as well.

Web Presence

It is useful to set up a website specifically for the AGM which can be part of your team website. Setting up and maintaining accurate information is the responsibility of the host team and links should be made available to the Morris Federation website, your Morris Federation committee contact will be able to advise. 

Details of Bed and Breakfast and Hotel type accommodation will be useful, together with any local camp sites.  Links can be included on the website, together with details of nearby car parks, train stations and park and ride facilities.

Saturday Morning Registration


People need to know when and where to register for the event.  People also need to know what they must do if they arrive late.


There needs to be an emergency contact mobile phone number for the day. 


You may need to put up some road signs if your venue is not easy to find. Small fluorescent signs are quite easy to follow.  It would be useful to let people know what sort of signs they were looking for in advance.  (Don’t forget to get someone to remove them on Sunday!) Let your Morris Federation committee contact know in good time if you would like an external banner/sail to put next to the entrance as we may be able to arrange one.


Coffee/Tea and biscuits should be provided if possible and toilets should be available. If they are not available, you should be able to direct people to the nearest sources.


Bear in mind that it may be raining, the venue needs to be big enough for people to shelter whilst registering and meeting friends. Ideally it will be the same venue as the AGM meeting at the end of the day to avoid confusion.

AGM Meeting (Saturday teatime)


Tea and coffee are much appreciated again at the start of the AGM meeting. Some teams are also able to provide cakes. People will expect to take their cups into the AGM meeting, so there may be a delay for the washing up staff!


The hall should be sufficiently large to seat 100 people. The Morris Federation committee will need a long table with six chairs, a water jug and glasses and access to power sockets.  A second table near the door will also be needed, where the members can sign in to the meeting and paperwork can be made available. 

Regarding technical setup, ideally the meeting will be run as a hybrid meeting (both in person and on zoom).  The room will need good WiFi, a large screen to see the remote attendees, and penty of power sockets. A roving microphone may be helpful if the room could be echoey.  WiFi may also be needed for attendees to use electronic voting.

Do not forget that there may be Morris Ring, Open Morris and EFDSS representatives present.  The President or Secretary will have invited them, but you should be aware that they will be around.

A sound system is not normally required, but if there are contentious issues to discuss, then a roaming microphone may be advantageous. The President or Secretary will be able to advise.


The start time of the AGM is usually 16:00 for 16:30. If necessary, this can be changed to suit the circumstances.  The starting time must be confirmed with the Morris Federation secretary.

You can expect the meeting to finish within 2 hours, but this cannot be relied on.  After the agenda has been finalised, the Morris Federation committee will probably have a better idea of any controversial matters which would extend the meeting.

Someone from your team should be available at the end of the meeting for a vote of thanks.


Non-members are only allowed to attend the meeting with the President’s permission.  They may require information about alternative things to do, or places to hang out.

MF Display Area

The Morris Federation committee may wish to bring a display, which may consist of free standing display boards, or pull up banners as well as a digital photo frame or a laptop and projector. The latter will need a small table, access to power and a blank wall/space to erect a screen.

The Morris Federation’s collection of scrapbooks and archive materials often are on display, these would need a display table.

Once you have decided on venues, you should contact the Archive Officer to discuss what might be possible.

Ideally whole event would be in one venue so that any displays will be available to view all day.


If you have sufficient space, at your discretion, you may wish to invite traders to attend eg, clog makers, One Stop Morris Shop, The Morris Shop etc. Teams often find these services useful. In the past a charge has been made of £50 to each trader.

The Showcase Dancing


You should obtain permission to dance for every spot on the tours.  This may mean talking to the local council and the police as well as the landowner.  The police should certainly be told about any massed stand. 


Following the changes to the Charities’ Act, the need for street collection permits has been reduced.  You may wish to collect to defray expenses or for a particular charity. You will need to agree this with the Morris Federation committee.  You must check what local arrangements are in force and may need to negotiate.


You should inform other local, non-Morris Federation teams that the event is happening, so that there are no clashes.  Please note that non-member teams cannot dance as part of the event. 


Do not forget that it is Morris Federation policy that dancers do not perform in sets made up from more than one side at the AGM showcase day.  Non-Morris dancers should not be invited to dance in the set on this prestigious occasion. Also note that any ‘guest musicians’ should be arranged in advance. 


The best arrangement is to have one person at each stand who is in charge, who can introduce the whole event and any teams who do not wish to announce themselves.  However, try to encourage teams to announce themselves, as this is all part of the performance we are giving. 


Sometimes a civic dignitary may be willing to open the event, followed by one or two teams dancing before setting off on tours.


A tour, by definition, requires moving people around.  There are three basic methods of doing this.  You can make people walk, use public transport, or hire transport specially.  Of course, your choice may well be limited by the area that you live in.  The Morris Federation committee recommends walking tours. Most teams prefer to dance with as many different sides as possible, rather than stick with the same group.

Do not rush tours. There is no need to try to cram as much as possible into the day.  Three spots plus a massed stand is plenty.  Minimising the travelling time gives people more time to dance, drink or look around and reduces the stress on the tour leaders. 


It is useful to have a “Local Guide” who need not be a dancer, and a “Morris Organiser” who need not be a local (They can of course be the same person).  It helps if at least one of these has a loud voice!  They need to know where the tour is going and when.  In any case, make sure that someone has a map.  The tour leader should also be provided with copies of any letters granting permission to dance.  Make sure that the leader has a supply of any information leaflets to give out to the public. The Tour leaders can either be assigned to each dance spot or to each team to act as a ‘minder’ who knows how to get from one spot to another. The Morris Federation has a supply of hi-viz vests if needed.


Prepare a sheet for each tour, showing who is on the tour, including the tour leaders and any other individuals, and where and when they are dancing.  Copy this to the squire of each team on the tour. Be prepared for last minute changes as teams do not turn up or have to swap tours etc.

Please make sure that the Morris Federation committee members have copies of all the information as they often tour the spots individually in order to see as many members as possible (you can send this information to your Morris Federation committee contact to distribute) There may be other people needing details such as invited guests.


It would be a good idea to have a first aid kit easily accessible on each tour.  You could also consider asking if teams are bringing any qualified first-aiders with them.  If you have any further questions about first aid, contact the Secretary for advice.


You may wish to design a special logo for the event, based on the Morris Federation Logo and that of your team, to be used on posters and other publicity materials. Otherwise, please include the Morris Federation logo on all materials.

Try to tell the local council as soon as possible.  They may be able to help with facilities, finding halls and so on, as well as with publicity.  You may even find that the Mayor wants to be involved.  If applicable, you may find that the Parish or Town council are more interested than the District.  On several occasions, local councils have paid all or part of the cost of the invitation mailing, in return for tourist information being included.

Tell the local papers, radio and TV about the event a few weeks in advance – a press handout is probably the easiest way, giving a brief outline of the events and including something to catch the eye.

Have posters made to advertise the tours – ask pubs, shops, garages etc, near the dance spots to put them up.  The posters do not need to be elaborate or expensive, you could use an enlarged copy of the headed notepaper.

Consider preparing an overall summary of the tours, for use in information centres and the like, showing everything that is going on in public on the Saturday. This could also be used as a small handout to give to the general public. You could include information about Morris dancing in general as well as details about the Morris Federation and your own local side. The Morris Federation committee can help you design these if required. Please agree the content with the Morris Federation Committee before going to print.

It is a good idea to ask a specific volunteer to handle your social media presence.


The Morris Federation has overall financial responsibility for the AGM meeting and the Showcase day of dance.  The host side is not liable for any loss, but neither do they gain from any profit.  Therefore, the Morris Federation committee, especially the Treasurer, must be involved in the major financial decisions.

We recommend that you have walking tours and leave people to cater for themselves. This means that there should be no cost to members and any administration costs will be borne by the Morris Federation. This has worked well in the past.

When calculating the costs, don’t forget to include provision of tea/coffee, administration costs such as photocopying, stationery (envelopes, tickets…), travelling expenses (petrol while booking tours) etc.

All these prices should be agreed with the Morris Federation committee. Please ensure that you let the Morris Federation Treasurer have a written copy of your estimates of costs.


Exclude from your estimates the following:

  • Collections – these cannot be relied on, particularly in the case of bad weather;
  • Any costs the Morris Federation committee might incur.

We no longer recommend opening a bank account especially for the AGM as this takes most banks such a long time.

If there are only a few items of cost to be incurred, bills may be presented directly to the Treasurer for payment from the Morris Federation bank account.

Your team may prefer to pay all costs directly and present the Treasurer with one bill at the end of the event.

The Morris Federation can provide a float, if needed, to cover expenses before the event.


When the event is over, and all the bills have been paid, a summary sheet should be sent to the Treasurer, showing all the income and outgoings, along with any float and balance of the funds. This should be sent before the relevant financial year end (1st April of the year following the AGM).


If you decide to make a collection and it is large, you will need bags from the bank to sort out the cash before banking it.  You may choose not to make a collection.


If there is a charge, then everyone must pay in advance.


These should only be paid in full if the cancellation is before the cut–off date.  After that they are at your discretion.  Generally, if a profit has been made, then refunds are paid, possibly minus an administration fee.

Other Options

Massed Stand

You may choose to have a massed stand, which is where all teams get to showcase their best dance in front of everyone else (not everyone dancing the same dance at the same time. Similarly, ‘fun’ dances, i.e. not Morris dances, are probably best kept for the ceilidh break or after hours!).  The Morris Federation committee strongly recommends having the massed stand at the beginning of the day for the following reasons:

  • It is easier for latecomers to find one central location, rather than chase round after a tour
  • The standard of dancing tends to be higher at the start of the day, as people are not so tired.
  • If the weather is inclement, it feels much colder standing around at the end of the day, than it does when there is a nice warm pub to look forward to.

The ideal would be to have one stand, and to allow all the teams to dance there.  However twenty–five teams taking seven minutes each leads to the massed dancing lasting nearly three hours.  Therefore you would almost certainly need two sites close together for the massed stand. 


The usual length of time needed per team, including getting on and off, announcing and so forth is about seven minutes.  This varies on the mix of styles present, with North West teams taking a little longer than Cotswold ones.  The easiest answer is to allow each team one dance.  If there is any underrun, you can give people a second go.  If there is an overrun, the rest of the day will just have to be late.  Do not send any of the tours away before the end of the massed stand.  People do want a chance to see all of the other teams dance.


Try to mix and match this.  The Morris Federation committee will be more than happy to help beforehand, but please do not ask them on the day to organise this! 

It has become the custom for the host team to be first on at the massed stand.  This has several advantages, not least being that they know where they are going, so should not be late.  Once they have danced, the team will be free to get on with any organising required.


Some teams like processions and some do not.  Short, downhill, processions seem to be more popular than others!

Processions can take a lot more organising than at first seems apparent.  It is vital that the Police are involved from the start.  They will have opinions about the route and so on. You may need to apply for a road closure.

Do not forget that the Morris Federation has a banner, which should lead the procession.

Make sure that the assembly area is large enough to accommodate all the teams, and that every team knows where they should be in the procession.  Give everyone a written copy of the order.

Encourage as many teams as possible to dance, but ask them to let you know if they are not going to.  This will enable you to spread the non–dancing sides through the procession.  Ask the musicians from non–dancing sides to play.  Encourage sides to bring a banner, if they have one.

Make sure that the leader of each team is aware of the need to keep a suitable distance from the team in front, so as not to cause too many problems with clashing music.  Ask how many musicians will be with each team, to try and arrange that the big bands are not next to the lone fiddlers.

Ask someone from each side, and any other spare people, such as the tour leaders to collect if possible.

Remember to consider what to do about all the sticks, garlands, cameras, coats and so on that Morris teams always seem to cart around? What are you going to do about teams that have a number of children with them?



It is usually a good idea to use just one company to provide all the transport.  It is important that the firm is reliable, try to use one that you have used before.

Double decker buses are more popular than coaches and have been found to be more flexible.  However you do need to check the routes in advance with the company.  It is not just low bridges that can cause problems, but there are sometimes length or weight restrictions that apply only to buses, and not to other large vehicles.

The buses will need to be labelled with the tour number.

Someone is bound to ask if they can use their own transport on the tour. Groups of cars chasing coaches around the countryside are a bad idea, however, so normally the answer would be no.  On a couple of occasions, a team has turned up with their own coach, which might as well be used. 


If you wish to organize catering or coach tours, then the costing becomes more complicated and some of these will need to be factored in per head.

You will need to charge people to cover the costs so that the event breaks even. The intention is not to make money, but the Morris Federation does not have the funds available to subsidise a loss every year.

If you are charging for the day, then costs directly attributable to the AGM itself must not be included in the ticket price for the event, as the AGM is free to all members.  If the hall has been booked as part of a package, calculate how much a separate booking for the AGM meeting would have been.

Calculate the costs and decide a booking fee for everyone before the ‘cheap’ date.  Add a pound or two on after that to give people an incentive to book early. 

If you decide to have tickets for parts of the event only, then you will have to calculate these on a similar basis.  It is quite reasonable to make everyone pay for the administration, even if they only come for part of the event.  This may make part tickets look expensive compared to the full event, but that is the only fair way of sorting it out.  This has been discussed at previous AGMs.

All these prices should be agreed with the Morris Federation committee. Please ensure that you let the Morris Federation committee have a written copy of your estimates of costs.

CHILDREN – remember to have a cheaper cost for children…but also remember that they take up as much room on a coach and probably eat as much as an adult!  The age of ‘child’ is also debatable…please use what you think best…there are arguments for and against ‘under 16’s’ or ‘under 12’s’.  However, it’s usual for under 5’s to be free as they fit on laps and usually have their own food.


Whatever you provide someone will complain!


You should be aware of the provisions of the Food Safety Act, particularly if you are intending to do any catering yourself.  A copy of the Morris Federation guidelines to this act is available.

Saturday Evening

It is not necessary to make arrangements for the Saturday evening, but many teams appreciate an event to round off the day. Any event on the Saturday is not financed by the Morris Federation and should be self financing. The Morris Federation may choose to underwrite it.

Various different formats have been tried in the past.  These have included each team providing a ‘turn’, which was a bit of a Curate’s egg, and a ‘Sixties’ disco, which was a great success with those who attended, but was not very popular with the Morris Federation membership as a whole.  A ceilidh is often successful, as is a pub session.

It is not necessary to book a nationally known band.  It is probably better to book someone that you know, and know will be able to cope with a large bunch of Morris dancers.  You might be able to sell tickets to the evening event separately.  As this is not a formal part of the event, non–members are allowed to attend. You may need to take out additional insurance if you sell tickets to the general public.

If you organise a ceilidh, then remember to consider those who do not wish to dance, This could be a bar session or just a lounge area to chat. The Morris Federation committee may also wish to use the displays.

Sunday Dance Spot

There are often enough teams who stay overnight to warrant a Sunday dance spot. It’s a good idea to gauge support by asking teams on the booking form.

Making a weekend of it

These have seemed less popular in recent years, but if you would like to run a weekend event, the Morris Federation committee will be happy to hear your ideas.

Last updated: March 2022

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