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En Garde in Elmira

Knights and wizards along with swords and spells were seen in Elmira as Gibson Park transformed into 12th century, Nottingham, England on June 8th.

The Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival is an annual family-friendly event and this year, it celebrated its’ 19th anniversary, fittingly themed, ‘The Year of the Birthday Bash’.

“Every year, the tournament that is held in Nottingham falls on the Prince’s Birthday and the party is always overshadowed by other events, but not this year. This year is the year of the Prince’s Birthday so this year he decrees that no one is allowed to bring bad news which may interrupt his festivities. Nothing is allowed to interfere with his day,” says Caitlyn Hill, who covers social media for the event. She is also portraying Lady Aria of Austria, a female fighter at the event.

Sir Joseph Age 9, Photo: Barbara Geernaert

“Some characters never change and are the same actors every year while others are “travelling” characters where we get to pick our own names and back stories,” Hill said.

Visitors of all ages submersed themselves in medieval life by joining Robin Hood and all of the other merry men and women who volunteer year after year.

Everyone was invited to try their hand at archery or siege weapons, play games and watch knights in battle.

Visitors were able to test their combat skills or spend time with the many jesters, musicians and numerous merchants who lined Vendor’s Row selling jewellery, leather goods, armour, toys and other period novelties.

Actors portrayed the people of Nottingham, enticing visitors to play games, watch shows and to keep an eye out for Robin Hood and the Sheriff.

The festival was a two-day event beginning with an Education Day on June 7. This was open to over 1,000 local grade four students who learned about medieval life by attending a variety of hands-on workshops.

Photo: Barbara Geernaert

On Festival Day, the park was open to the public.

“People look forward to the shenanigans of the merry men and Robin Hood including pleasant side stories with the townsfolk and Vendors Lane. We have several different activities to participate in and lots of shows to watch,” Hill said.

“I feel like this event is so great because of all of our many volunteers. We have such a great “family” vibe that really goes out and everyone puts their efforts in this festival year after year. There’s something for everyone from Arcadia, archery, jugglers and fighters. We all work really hard to make this happen. Fighters practice every week starting in February and shows rehearse starting in March. Everyone just gives it their all and we make everyone feel welcome.”

Hill said there were about 80 actors and a few dozen volunteers that took part in the event this year.

The Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival was founded in 2001. It is a non-for-profit organization overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors. The festival continues to have the support of hundreds of performers, volunteers and community members.

“We put in the time and effort to make it work because we love doing it,” Hill says.

“Being a part of Robin in the Hood gives some of us a sense of belonging and a family to spend time with. That’s why it’s such a great family event.”

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