Hoggetowne Medieval Faire draws 30,000 visitors

The jokester perched on the castle wall entrance to the 35th annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire set the tone for a lighthearted and character engaging experience.

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2022 - joust

According to the City of Gainesville, the event attracted more than 30,000 attendees over three weekends at its new location along Archer Road.

The festival featured ancient games of chess with real people pieces, war horse jousting, a market row featuring swords, jewelry and other handcrafted artwork for sale.

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The watermelon field converted to a parking lot filled up early each day despite cold temperatures moving in for part of the event that was held multiple days on three January weekends.

Jeebus was busy pushing kids on a giant dragon swing, which he would climb on and tease the riders by hanging upside down on the ropes and announcing, “Look, no hands.”

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2022 -- Jeebus

He would swing the kids high then hang off of the dragon’s neck and do a backflip—much to the delight of parents who watched with cameras recording his acrobatic moves.

Over at the giant battle chess board, real human characters moved about as the pieces. But when they came face to face in the challenge, sword fights and knock down, drag out “fights” broke out to the applause of spectators cheering from the stands.

Eight-year-old David Wilkening found it so exciting that he yelled out, “This is better than a movie!”

Musician Scott West was roaming about playing his mandocello, which has a fifth chord of strings. West lives in Gainesville and plays in a band called Jig to a Milestone. This is his 21st year helping organize and participate in the festival.

Magic, the pure, white miniature unicorn, was greeting his fans just outside of the jousting arena and next to the camel ride corner.

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2022 - Sir

Sir Real was working his way through the market area wearing a 4-foot long gondola around his waist. The watercraft that had Italian opera music playing from one end and a party going on inside.

Passersby were invited to peek into the windows to discover the gondola was a detailed diorama with Venetian ballroom dining and dancing inside.

And when the horns started blaring a procession headed to the jousting arena where the king and queen took to their deluxe box seats while the peasants filled the stands.

Sir William of New Riders of the Golden Age and War Horse Productions greeted the crowd that flanked the jousting arena.

“It’s been a long two years,” he said to the crowd, referring to the pandemic interrupting jousting in Gainesville. And then he told the crowd the knights would not come out unless they loudly welcomed them. That elicited hoots and hollers and got the spirit going.

He assigned each side a knight to cheer for, one in blue and black and the other in blue and gold.

Knights adorned in period-designed 16th century armor swept across the arena on Clydesdale horses and waved to their fans.

Sir William prompted the crowd to acknowledge royalty and they yelled, “God save the King.”

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2022 - joust

“Knights, you may brandish your weapons, come to the center and hurt each other, because that’s why we’re here,” Sir William announced.

The knights passed each other on the way to joust and got caught up in a sword fight that William narrated as the crowd cheered and jeered.

The knights then lined up on each end of the field and the war horses tucked their heads down as they charged the opponents.

The clanging armor and powerful blows from the jousting enthralled the crowd. Knight Victor prevailed and bragged to his supporters as he came off the field.

The king and queen greeted their fans after the match and knighted those worthy. Kids and adults knelt before the king as he tapped them on a shoulder and gave them a royal name.

After the ceremony, trumpeters saluted as the token was handed to the newly knighted. It read: Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2022.

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2022 - battle chess

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