For any Yukoners longing for a taste of the good ol’ days minus the unpleasantries of things like, say, the bubonic plague or raw sewage being freely tossed out of windows, a new event being held at the end of the month is for you.
A medieval fair is being hosted at Whitehorse’s Grey Mountain Biathlon Range in conjunction with the Company of the White Wolf’s annual knight-combat tournament, and period costumes are encouraged.
The idea has been kicking around for a few years now, organizer Telek Rogan told the News.
“Well, the Company of the White Wolf has been holding a medieval fighting tournament every year for the last five years … and I was one of the people who was interested when it first kind of got (started) but I’m not really much of a fighter,” Rogan said.
The draw for her, instead, was the medieval reenactment and live-action role-playing side of things, an interest that she said could be traced back to her being a “pretty big bookworm” as a kid and reading books on medieval history, castles, trebuchets, weaponry and clothing.
While she didn’t stick around as a White Wolf fighter, she did serve as the food and beverage vendor at last year’s tournament, and, seeing the high turnout, decided there was room to grow.
“I offered to be the one to do (the fair), and here we are,” Rogan said.
Having a medieval fair surrounding the tournament is great news, Yukon Medieval Combat Group president and White Wolf member Land Pearson told the News.
“So, in my head, basically since we started the tournament, I’ve had a dream of someone picking up and putting something like this on around us,” he said, adding that Rogan had approached him with the idea of actually organizing the fair last winter.
Fairs add “flavour” to medieval combat tournaments, Pearson said, and offer both attendees and fighters an immersive experience that allows them to further suspend their disbelief and feel like they’re really stepping back in time.
“I don’t think we’ll have it this year but, like, you could have somebody there kind of banging away on an anvil doing a bit of blacksmithing or people doing some of the textiles work, that kind of thing,” he said. “… There’s a bit of a living history moment as well for the audience.”
“It doesn’t hurt that right now, one of the largest TV shows has been, you know, a medieval fantasy, with Game of Thrones going on,” he added. “But I feel that a lot of people often like to look back on that time and think about chivalry and knights and lords and ladies. There’s sort of a romantic ideal to it that maybe we don’t have to today and maybe people kind of like that idea.”
While Rogan is still securing vendors and sponsors for the event (there will be no table fees for vendors, although there is an expectation that they will dress up in medieval-inspired attire), attendees can expect booths selling hand-crafted goods, a food truck and beer garden, children’s pony rides and a small collection of carnival games, including ring-toss and archery.
Entry to the fair and tournament will be free, but attendees will have to buy tickets to play the games and for pony rides. The proceeds from those sales will be going to the Yukon Imagination Library, a non-profit that sends free books once a month to Yukon children from, according to the organization’s website, “birth to age five.”
Although she’s excited, Rogan, who already has three outfits picked out for the weekend, said she’s also trying to keep her expectations low for two reasons — she’s never planned an event before, and she’s basically doing everything on her own.
“Everything is being made by hand — everything that’s going to be there, the carnival games, the decorations, banners,” she said.
“One of the things that we promised our sponsors is that they would have like a medieval-ized sponsor banner that will be hanging for the weekend. I’m going to have to hand-paint those myself, and because I have very few sponsors and a very tight budget, I’m basically doing everything by thrifting and resourcing. Like, everything’s coming from scrap lumber, paint I’m finding at the free store.”
She’s also never been to a medieval fair before.
“I know about them because it is definitely something I am interested in, but I don’t travel quite a lot out of the Yukon, and so this is going to be a first-time for me as well,” Rogan said.
She’s optimistic though, especially after her call-out for vendors and volunteers on Facebook drew dozens of excited replies.
“I’m hoping that at least curiosity is going to bring out some of the crowd, and you know, I was very, very happy to see like the amount of positive feedback I was getting,” she said.
“(People were) tagging each other and saying, ‘Oh yes, we’re definitely going to have to hit it up!’ It’s very exciting.”
The fair is scheduled to take place June 29 and 30, with exact times to be determined after the tournament schedule is set.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org