Knights and ladies, get thee to the merry Brooks Medieval Faire
Get ready for ‘full-tilt jousting’ and feudal fun times at this annual festival
A FestivalSeekers' road trip isn't complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, and culinary, learning and cultural experiences. During summer 2018, create your #BucketlistAB itinerary in Southern Alberta and come and stay a night and see a sight.
Elin Thora Jensdottir
All around me there’s medieval mayhem and much merriment. Standing at the tournament ring, fighters head to toe in steel armour try to knock each other down to the ground. To the backdrop of the baritone sounds of drums, the clashing swords ring out somewhere behind me. Costumed characters walk by as I hear the herald calling out for the crowd to gather in the tournament ring with the king and queen. It’s time for the height of medieval entertainment – the jousting tournament.
Come one, come all to the Brooks Medieval Faire. The age of chivalry, swords and chain mail comes alive here with the hard work of dedicated historians, re-enactors, skilled craftsmen and modern knights seeking an honest fight.
With a new crew taking over the Faire this year, it promises to bring in even more exciting events.
“It almost feels like a brand-new Faire,” says Jen Silverhorse, co-director of Alberta Medieval Settlement Ltd., organizer of the annual event, happening this year on Aug. 11 and 12.
Brooks has been the meeting ground for medieval enthusiasts for 14 years, which began as a fundraiser for the Brooks Public Library.
It became such a smashing success, it kept getting bigger and better every year.
“It became a great unwieldy beast,” says Silverhorse of the event.
So much so that organizers plan to harness the success of this event and raise funds to build a permanent historic medieval site that is sure to bring people to the town of Brooks year-round.
Kicking things up a notch are the Knights of Valour, always a crowd pleaser.
“I’m bringing the best of the best,” says Shane Adams, former world champion of full-contact jousting and leader of the what is referred to as the “hardest-hitting jousting company in the world.”
He brings with him two Canadians and two American jousters, one of whom is Charlie Andrews, the current world champion. These four modern jousters come to Brooks for one purpose only – to give a jousting match unlike any you’ve seen before. This will be the only chance to see them in Alberta this year.
These athletes train non-stop, getting super fit to compete against each other in a “race for the gold,” says Adams.
Both Saturday and Sunday, audiences will see two matches in a one-hour long show. You will appreciate that the competitors are not holding back a muscle, striking each other with solid lances.
“What we do is real,” says Adams. They take a little artistic licence with the historical accuracy of jousting. For instance, nobles wouldn’t strike each other with the same lances that fighters on the battlefield used.
It’s “full-tilt jousting,” says Silverhorse.
For another non-choreographed adrenaline rush, meander over to the Lists (the tournament ring) and witness the Tournament of Champions, happening all weekend. Hosted by Calgary’s Wardens of the Red Tower, men and women clash in Western Canada’s largest Medieval Armoured Combat Tournament. Crowds will witness one-on-one longsword, sword and shield, and pole arm duels as well as three-on-three melee battles.
At the Living Village, you’ll find among others, the Lethbridge Medieval Club’s camp and the Living Backwards Society’s authentic 14th-century tent encampment with knights and civilians going about daily life.
Dragon’s Own is a group of medieval entertainers, who take a little poetic licence with their historical realism and throw in some fantasy to entertain young and old.
Anyone seeking authentically crafted wares will find jewellery, weapons, armour, fabrics and more at the Artisan Marketplace, which is expanding this year to include 100 vendor stalls. Elsewhere, there’s a Live Action Role Play camp if you feel the need to escape even further from reality.
There will also be food and drink aplenty with 13 food trucks on the grounds to satisfy any appetite. The organizers of the event wanted to showcase local artisans and vendors, and as Silverhorse says, “Everything is Alberta-proud.”
To gain the attention of the king and queen, put on your finest medieval garb and enter the costume contest to win a prize. Parents with children who need to burn off some energy can head over to the Kids’ Kingdom.
For an extra-sensory experience, join in The Feast on Saturday night where you’ll be treated to historically accurate music and dancing. There will be a “straight-up Alberta barbecue,” a menu better appreciated by the modern palate, with the chance to try Chinook Arch mead and Village Brewery’s craft ales.
If You Go
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Did you know that Brooks is only about an hour away from Medicine Hat and only 25 minutes from the Newell region? Learn more here.
The 15th Brooks Medieval Faire happens in Brooks, AB., Aug. 11 and 12, 2018 on the town’s rodeo grounds.
Admission price includes the jousting, tournament fights and access to the Living Village and Artisan Marketplace. Admission is cash-only at the gate, though you can buy advance tickets at the Brooks Medieval Faire website, where you’ll also find full details on the weekend’s events.