Jousting and swordfighting coming to Brooks this weekend
The Brooks rodeo grounds will be overtaken by lords, ladies, knights, and dragons this weekend for one of the largest invitational jousting tournaments in North America.
The Brooks Medieval Faire, an annual tradition in its 13th year, returns Saturday. Last year’s event drew crowds of more than 5,000 people.
“We’re kind of like a little comic con too, because so many people come in costumes,” said Barbara Matson, chairwoman of the Faire’s organizing board.
The Faire started in 2003, intended by the Brooks Public Library to be a fun, themed afternoon in the park. The city loved the event so much, it quickly became too big for the library to handle.
A non-profit community group — the Brooks Medieval Faire Society — took over in 2009 and moved it to the rodeo grounds.
“It’s just gone crazy since then,” Matson said.
Now, it’s a full-fledged weekend with sword-fighting, jousting, a medieval village, feasts and more.
The competition is one of few invitational jousting tournaments open to the public, Matson said, and has become a destination for many of the competitors. This year, jousters have come from as far away as Denmark, France, Sweden, and Australia.
“We’re it,” Matson said. “It’s very cool.”
Matson admits the Faire’s popularity is unusual for Brooks, an city southeast of Calgary where rodeo might be more expected.
“Why does it work in Brooks?” she said. “I can’t answer that, I don’t know.”
However, Matson says the public’s love of Game of Thrones and other medieval-themed fantasy TV shows to the mainstream in recent years have likely helped the Faire grow.
“People think, ‘I want to do something like that,’” she said.
The Faire is put together, for the most part, by just the six people on the organizing board. The $100,000 cost is covered mostly by local sponsors.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Matson said.
This year’s Faire will feature a fire dancer, stilt performer, storytelling, a “living village” of medieval re-enactors, Japanese taiko drumming, gladiators, costume contests for all ages, a craft tent and various artisan vendors.
A dragon with a six-metre wingspan is also expected to be on the grounds, although tickets for medieval-style feasts have already sold out.
The Faire opens at 9:30 a.m. all weekend, and closes at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are available at the gates for $15 per day for adults, with discounts for children, teens and seniors. Children under five years of age get in for free.
More information is available online at brooksfaire.com.
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