27 September 2023

Hear ye, hear ye! Thousands turn out to first-ever Queanbeyan Medieval Fair

| James Coleman
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Even the Roman legion ‘Legio XII Fulminata’ turned up. Photo: Queanbeyan Medieval Fair, Facebook.

Queanbeyan took a few steps back in time last weekend.

There were roving artists selling chain-link and linen wares, knights jousting on horseback, blacksmiths tinkering with swords, and everything else you’d expect to see if the year was, in fact, 1423.

The inaugural Queanbeyan Medieval Fair was held at the Queanbeyan Showground on 23 and 24 September, offering a glimpse into the real life and fairy tales of the Middle Ages.

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“It has been overwhelming the amount of involvement we have received from locals, re-enactment groups, merchants and lovers of medieval,” the fair posted to social media on Monday.

“We had a blast and thank you all for attending.”

Coordinator Henry Carter described it as a “combination of artisan workers and tournaments”.

“You’ve got blacksmiths, leather workers, craftspeople dealing in the old medieval methods of papermaking and painting, as well as combat groups fighting with swords and jousting, and group camps where people will explain different parts of medieval life to onlookers,” he told Region in May.

There’s already a national calendar of medieval fairs around Australia, attracting visitors from all over the world, but this is a first for Queanbeyan.

Henry has been interested in all things medieval since school, helped by the fact he would volunteer for his father’s community group at the annual fair in their home state of South Australia. He leapt at the chance to create another fair in NSW to complement the one in Sydney.

It certainly paid off.

“We ended up having over 12,000 people, from all over the place – South Australia, Western Australia, everywhere,” Henry told Region on Monday.

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The weekend’s entertainment was divided into programs, with stalls dotted around the showgrounds for attendees to wander through to create a full day’s excursion. Some people from Saturday even returned the following day.

“The Middle Ages covers such a wide range of time period,” Henry explains.

“People usually have it from 1066 to the use of gunpowder, but we tried to add some elements from before and after that period as well, so people can get the idea of how things progress and change over time.”

Medieval music. Photo: Queanbeyan Medieval Fair, Facebook.

There are a few “teething troubles” to sort out with the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC), but the hope is to bring the fair back next year, bigger and better.

“The stall holders were all really positive, really liked it and hope it goes ahead next year,” Henry said.

“As the event gets bigger, we’ll add new things and lure in more stall holders and entertainment providers. We’ve definitely got that in South Australia where various groups come in and provide extra elements, and we’re hoping to do the same here.”

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“1066 to the use of gunpowder”? Don’t think so – that’s excluding more than half the period. Historians generally date the medieval period from the late 400s to the 1450s or so.

“…and everything else you’d expect to see if the year was, in fact, 1423.”

The only question that I have is: How did the Roman legion get transported a thousand years into the future?

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