For two consecutive weekends, the Alachua County Fairgrounds will transform into a medieval marketplace during the 32nd Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. The blasts of trumpets mingle with the laughter of children as the kingdom of Hoggetowne opens its gates. Dancers and singers in medieval garb captivate crowds, while hundreds of artisans sell jewelry, hand-blown glassware, wood carvings and medieval clothing. Guests can enjoy acts on nine stages of entertainment, with performances by gypsy dancers and mystifying magicians. On the jousting field, armored knights battle one another from horseback for the honor of the King and Queen. In conjunction with this year’s theme of “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” the Tournament Field will host a stunning show of combat entertainment during a living chess match as the dashing Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men stand against Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Children can embark on their own adventures by enjoying human-powered push rides and camel and pony rides. Guests who arrive early will be greeted by a gathering of performers, actors and characters. Sunshine Andrei, Festival Coordinator, echoes the sentiments of many when she describes this unique “meet and greet” as her favorite part of the day.
Great Wares and Fine Food
The Faire showcases more than 160 talented artisans and craftspeople from all over the countryside, who arrive at Hoggetowne to display and sell a variety of goods. At the marketplace, visitors will find one-of-a-kind blacksmithing, jewelry, stone and wood carvings, weaving, hand-blown glassware, leather crafts, and period fashions. Vendors will also show how they create their works of art. If walking through the market makes visitors hungry, they can head to the food court for a feast fit for a king. Tasty blooming onions, giant turkey legs, fresh-baked pastries, sweet potato fries and succulent ribs are just some of the foods available. Young lords and ladies can also be seen munching giant turkey legs.
Record Crowds Expected
“The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire always draws a large crowd, and this year will be no exception,” says Sunshine Andrei, who is preparing for what she hopes will be a record number of visitors. “Fans of the faire wait all year for this medieval celebration, and we’re thrilled to have them.”
Revelry and Recreation
Nine stages of continuous entertainment feature jugglers, jesters and magicians. Musicians play medieval melodies on period instruments and belly dancers perform in the street. Thrilling human-powered push rides attract lines of eager children while vendors urge visitors to play crossbow shooting and knife throwing. The astounding “Birds of Prey” show features trained hawks and falcons that perform for the pleasure of the crowds.
All admission on Friday, February 2 is at a reduced price, and individuals with disabilities are admitted free.
Entertainment and Education: Hand in Hand
During School Day at the Faire, Friday, Feb. 2, thousands of children will get a firsthand look at history and enjoy a field trip filled with magic, excitement and adventure. Schools from all over Florida visit to learn about medieval times in an engaging and authentic educational environment.
School Day at the Faire
This is a great opportunity for students studying the Middle Ages to experience what this time period was really like. Schools, home-school students and groups with special needs can receive discounted entrance fees by pre-registering, as well as a free educational guide filled with activities for before and after the Faire.
The Royal Pavilion
This brightly colored pavilion is located near the entrance of the Faire. A green canopy shades the royal throne, upon which sit the King and Queen of Hoggetowne, flanked by their guards and heralds. It’s here that over the course of the Faire, more than a thousand children will become lords and ladies, dragon slayers and damsels of the royal court.
The Royal Procession
King William and Queen Caroline will lead the Royal Procession through Hoggetowne’s crowded streets on Friday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The king and queen lead more than 100 actors, musicians and other performers through the streets of Hoggetowne to the jousting fields, where knights battle for the honor of the queen. One of the Faire’s most notable attractions is the joust, where knights in full armor charge each other on horseback, clashing in the middle of the field and battling mightily. Be sure not to miss this exciting event. Jousting begins at 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Friday and 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Families will enjoy the Children’s Pavilion with educational, hands-on, creative activities. An Art & Essay Contest in the Children’s Pavilion features the work of more than 200 local school children. There will be 56 prize winners in six age groups and three categories representing talent from every grade level. The three grand-prize winners will receive a $25 gift certificate to be spent at the Medieval Faire, and a total of 56 first, second, and third place prizes will be given two guest passes to the Faire, a Hoggetowne commemorative T-shirt and an award certificate. The King and Queen of Hoggetowne will recognize the winners at an award ceremony held on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m. in the Royal Pavilion.
A Noble Tradition
The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire is produced by the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and is one of North Florida’s most beloved traditions. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity for entertainment, education, and a great time for the whole family.