The eighth annual Gumeracha Medieval Fair has been another resounding success! It was held on the 3rd & 4th May in the Federation Park and although we had “Scottish mist” conditions on Saturday morning, the day became fine to admit over 8,500 excited visitors from all over Australia and even overseas. And they weren’t disappointed!
The grounds of the lovely Park were filled with tents for the knights and their fair ladies, and entire villages of Vikings, lots of food, music, and hand-crafted goods for everyone to try and buy. Colin from Esford Swords of Brisbane told me that he had sold as much on the Saturday at Gumeracha as he had done during two days at a large event in New South Wales just recently. He said the people over this way are very friendly too.
The entertainment moved from the fast and furious knights fighting in the Combat Arena to the more relaxed atmosphere in the Medieval Pavilion where harpist Siobhan Owen and the Umbrella a’ Capella Choir sang songs from far-off lands. Tony Gill had our feet tapping to his Irish whistle tunes.
Punch and Judy proved to be as popular as ever in the Children’s area together with Fran, the costume lady, the Storytellers and Face painters. Tim and his family had brought their big circular tent and children were able to help craft their own wooden swords nearby. Crowds came to watch the girls from the Gawler Irish Dance Club dancing around the Maypole and others were able to stroke the baby kangaroos and possums at the Native Animal Network display.
Stalwarts from the Timber Frames group set up, not only their hand crafted Moat Perrier siege machine, but the new weight balanced Trebuchet this year. This machine, hand crafted in the old way with mortise and tenon joints, was able to fling pumpkins and watermelons many meters away into the blackberry bushes to the crowd’s great (and noisy) acclaim.
The Artisans Village has expanded again around two large Viking camps, and included our Cooper and Metalsmith, several Blacksmiths and the Chain Maille maker, some Felt makers, the Calligraphers, woodworkers, and this year an Apothecary, making up some hand balm to a Roman recipe dated 56AD. Further down the “street” one could purchase a “tussie mussie” posy (guaranteed to ward off the plague), some medieval texts or perfumes or chat to Jan the Medieval Spinner and her “spinster” companions, Sue and Judy and also Brother Stephen. This year Ian the weaver joined them. Mike Smith from Sydney was demonstrating how a medieval lock worked to a very interested audience of Fair-goers.
At the end of the Village Lane the Medieval Archers were very busy with lines of Archers firing at the targets with the famous English Longbow which had won many victories for the English armies of the medieval times. In a battle the thousands of arrows loosed at once by Welsh Archers could strike terror into an opposing side of mounted knights.
The new Re-enactment Group that has been formed called Adelaide Live Action Swords & Sorcery is similar in some ways to our other local Knights and Vikings but which also incorporates another level of fantasy for those who want to experience “live action”. The Group captures the interest of those who are getting into the “Game of Thrones” lifestyle. This is another way of experiencing what medieval life is all about and often leads to a greater interest in Re-enactment.
This year, eleven Re-enactment Groups came to the Fair. Two of these groups had traveled from Victoria to be with us – the King’s Horses and the Jomsvikings or Rus Traders who combined with the local New Varangian Guard–Ladoga garrison to show us a well-formed Viking encampment along with that of the Handakas garrison nearby. Other local groups included Ironclad and their resident armourer Mathias the Forge, and the Adelaide Sword Academy. The Border Celts and Ghillie Mhor Broadsword Dancers, the local Innilgard group of the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Medieval Archers. All the dedicated members of these Groups spend hours of time preparing to entertain the Fair-goers and their efforts were not wasted in the slightest!
Once again musicians and entertainers from across the state provided medieval folk music from many cultural backgrounds. The Nava Ensemble was again with us with the lovely Persian classical music, Jack Brennan and Tony Gill (the Pied Piper), together with Siobhan Owen (Welsh Harpist) gave us our Celtic music “fix” and the English folk tradition was amply supplied by Greenwood, Christine and the girls from “Harpstrings” and the Lady and the Minstrel. Not to forget the “Pipers of Destiny” with Scottish bagpipes and drums. Of course Josh the Juggler seemed to be everywhere at once and the Saffron Tribal Belly Dancers attracted huge crowds of onlookers. The daily Costume Competitions caused a flurry of excitement, but also long queues as nearly everyone is coming to see the Fair in costume nowadays. This adds so much to the atmosphere and fun of the occasion!
The Food Merchants were expanded this year but the Sword and Ox and Gumeracha Community Association stalls were as busy as ever. This year Bank SA loaned us a huge tent for the TAVERN and it was filled with sumptuous tastes to tempt the patrons with foods and beverages derived in the local Torrens Valley area with Wendy and David Cook of the Birdwood Wine & Cheese Centre. The famous “Mien Hosts” from the Lobethal Bierhaus were serving their award winning beers and mead. There was also Venison Pies, Ploughman’s Lunches served as well. The Town Hall was alive with medieval feasting and entertainment on the Saturday night (even a Viking raid, I believe).
All this historical fun was put together with the co-operation of local community and service groups of the Torrens Valley. From the Fair net profits of $16,000 were dispersed back into the local community by the Management Committee. This has become an exciting annual event which benefits the whole of the Gumeracha and Torrens Valley district.
See you there for the next Fair on the 2nd, 3rd May 2015
Open times are 10 am -5pm Sat and 10am -4pm Sun
Admission Prices for 2014: Adults $15 (2 days $25)
Concession & Students $10 (2 days $ 15)
Children (under 5 free) $5 (2 days $5)
Family ( 2 Adults 3 Children ) $30 (2 days $50)