Note: Today is Flashback Friday at Berkshire Family Focus and we are reposting Nichole Dupont’s feature from last year on Ventfort Hall’s Medieval Faire. This year’s Medieval Faire is set for this Sunday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The cost is $22 for adults and $12 for children.
By NICHOLE DUPONT
LENOX — While the age of knights and damsels has long since been replaced by Lego castles and iPads, it is still nice to pretend. Every year, in the United States and across the pond, families looking for a glimpse into the past don themselves in gauntlets and peasant blouses that harken back to the Middle Ages. And you don’t have to ride your noble steed very far to experience the age of castles and mead. On Sunday, Oct. 7, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum is hosting its fourth annual Medieval Faire in Lenox.
According to Office Manager Mark Monette, who is also the faire coordinator, the picturesque grounds of the mansion provide the perfect backdrop for an event that has enjoyed increasing popularity, especially among local families.
“The faire has become one of the most successful events that we do here,” Monette said. “It’s so packed and so busy that day. It’s really fun to watch all of the exhibitions. And you can’t choose a spot that is more picturesque, with the grounds and the great Jacobean mansion in the background. It’s perfect.”
Throughout the last four years, Monette has watched the event grow from an attendance of 200 the first year to an anticipated 600 people for this year’s event. And as with the enthusiastic visitors who are encouraged to come in costume (and many of them do), the number of events and exhibitions has increased to include many kid-friendly, fascinating events. Equestrian and archery demonstrations along with two shows of “Rumpelstiltskin” by the Richmond-based Robbins-Zust Family Marionettes troupe will provide entertainment for all ages. Food vendors, many with “era-appropriate” fare will be on hand to feed hungry crusaders, and there will even be a craft table for children to make flower coronets (crowns) of the day. According to Monette, the entire experience is, of course, designed to be fun, but said there is a certain promise of education that always accompanies the Medieval Faire.
“These events that happen show how people actually lived and fought during the Middle Ages,” he said. “They also demonstrate how the different customs of everyday life have evolved so much since those times. Our lives are so different. This experience is a good way to connect historically.”
Perhaps the highlight of the Medieval Faire, is the much-anticipated armored combat display led by Jeffrey Mann, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., an international organization “dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe.” Monette said that Mann’s expertise actually extends beyond the battlefield into the forging chamber.
“Jeffrey isn’t just an armor expert, he also makes his own armor,” Monette said. “People will have an opportunity to try some pieces on and see just how heavy it is! That’s something the kids love. I tried on one of the helmets and could barely see. I think it gives some real insight into how hard it must have been to train and fight, while on horseback, wearing the armor. I don’t know how they did it.”
The clink of Mann’s armor will be accompanied by music of the day, including the harp and other commonly-used instruments. Something new this year will be a schedule that is provided to visitors who don’t want to miss any of the excitement. After all, Mann said, this is a day centered around community.
“All of these performers are doing this out of the goodness of their heart,” he said. “And we have volunteers such as Birgit Vetromile and her daughter Lena Leonardson who have put this whole thing together because they want to do something special for the mansion and for the community. It’s a big commitment, but one that everyone enjoys.”
The Medieval Faire will be held at Ventfort Hall, 104 Walker Street, Lenox on Sunday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for 5 to 17 year olds, and free for children 4 and under and include admission to the mansion for self-guided tours. Day-of tickets are $22 and $12 respectively. For reservations, call 413-637-3206. For more information on Venfort Hall and the Medieval Faire visit gildedage.org.