Take a step back in time with the Windy Castle Medieval Faire, July 29 and 30 at the Coyote Flats Pioneer Village, just south of Picture Butte.
The Faire was inspired by Michelle Couper’s visit to the Brook Medieval Faire. She soon recruited Juanita DeVos to help organize a medieval faire near Lethbridge.
“She went there for a day and said she’d love to build a hay bale maze. And as soon as she said she wanted to do a medieval faire, I said ‘count me in,’” DeVos said, adding ironically, the hay bale maze will be pretty much the only attraction not happening at the faire due to the bales they wanted to borrow for it being in too poor quality to move twice.
“If you shoot for the moon, you will at least reach the clouds. Some ideas have been derailed. Not all of our ideas have come to fruition,” DeVos said.
So there will be a variety of attractions for all ages, including bouncy castles for age 6-11, 12-18 and another for grownups, a medieval feast including jousting from jousting organization Tilt and Lance, medieval sword-fighting demonstrations and lessons, games, an adventure-filled carriage ride in the coulee, bards, storytellers, the Lethbridge object manipulators, jugglers, crafts, plenty of people in medieval costumes, vendors and artisans of all sorts. There will even be a tavern featuring a special brew created by Coulee Brew for the event, plus mead and a singing bartender.
“We might even have archery, depending on the wind,” she said.
“We even have a psychic. She knows how many people will be there, but she won’t tell us, which is unfair,” DeVos chuckled.
There will be a treasure hunt as well, where participants, will be given a program and a list of clues for them to follow. In addition there will be a photo contest and photo booth.
“Michelle said the number one rule was it has to be fun for everyone including the volunteers. I was reading a book about Walt Disney, who said your staff is your most important asset. If they’re happy, everybody else will be. The volunteers only have to work four hours and then they can enjoy the faire,” DeVos said, adding they still need more volunteers.
“We can’t do an event like this without volunteers,” she said.
She noted they have received a lot of support from the community including Kapow Comics, who have been selling tickets, and the Lethbridge Medieval Club, who will be a big part of the Faire, holding martial arts and medieval combat demonstrations as well as teaching some of the simpler techniques to those interested.
You might have noticed a variety of armoured individuals battling it out with swords, maces and an assortment of other medieval weaponry, Tuesday nights in front of the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden and in the University of Lethbridge Student Union ballrooms during the school year.
They are members of the Lethbridge Medieval club.
“It’s a different diversion. We’ll be fighting and we’ll also be doing some sword instruction,” said long-time member Brian Boisson, dressed as a Far East warrior, noting he joined the club as an extension of his interest in role-playing games.
“I saw them fighting and said ‘that’s what I want to do’,” he continued, noting he learned from older members of the club, which started back in 1981. He joined the club in 2005.
“It looked like fun, getting dressed in armour and hitting people with swords,” he said.
Anywhere between 15-20 members come out to practices.
They are prominent faces at medieval faires across the country.
“You could probably go to one every weekend if you wanted to and were willing to drive for fly to it,” Boisson said.
Lethbridge Medieval Club president Kris Fischer, a chemistry professor at the University of Lethbridge by day, joined the club back in 1997.
“I already have a martial arts background in karate and tae-kwon-do and was interested in the Middle Ages and wanted to do something,” he said, noting the movie “A Knight’s Tale” piqued his interest to try duelling for himself.
“Other people are inspired by ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Excalibur,’” he observed.
“There are a lot of books that still exist describing the techniques. So I’d read them and say, ‘I want to try that,’” he said, adding most of the instruction comes from older, more experienced club members.
“If you ask any of the members about why they joined, everybody has their own reasons for joining,” he said.
“There’s nothing I like better than fighting people with swords and hitting each other with other medieval weapons,” Boisson chuckled.
Faire passes are available through http://www.windycastle.com and are $15 for one day or $25 for both. Passes for youths 11–17 are $5 per day and children 10 and under are free.
Faire passes also allow you to board the Magic Bus for a lift out to the faire. They are at the Lethbridge Public Library and Picture Butte Public Library and run every half hour during the day.
Tickets to the five-course dinner and joust are extra, costing $75 in advance.