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Robin in the Hood Festival surrenders to the weather

It wasn’t King John, the Sheriff of Nottingham or Sir Guy of Gisbourne that kept Robin Hood away from Elmira, it was the weather.

A severe thunderstorm in the region knocked down trees, took out power and forced the cancellation of the Robin in the Hood Festival’s Saturday program.

Organizers of the event decided for safety reasons to cancel the event, the first time in 11 years.

“We got hit with a huge downpour, all of our costumes were soaking wet, our set pieces were wet, the grass was wet so we couldn’t have any of our fights and we couldn’t run any of our electrical equipment,” said DJ Carroll, organizer of the festival. “There is nothing we could do: it was just time to pack it up. We hated it, but all it takes is one person to get hurt and then no more festival, ever.”

During the storm tree branches fell hitting some props and just missing vendor tents in Gibson Park.

“We had tree branches that were hanging dangerously by pieces of bark,” said Chris Duncan, who portrays Little John. “We lost our footbridge when the creek in the park overflowed and took it downstream. For a while there it was really crazy weather with a lot of lightning.”

The festival was not a total lost as the educational program on June 2 went off with out a hitch with 1,100 Grade 4 students from surrounding schools attending the event.

EYE ON THE SKY Chris Duncan, who portrays Little John, looks to the skies during a thunderstorm that would eventually lead to the cancellation of the festival June 4.

“We got half of what we do, we always say the education day is the meat and potatoes and the Saturday is the gravy,” said Carroll. “Saturday is for the actors, they have all their comedy routines, all their character stuff ready and they are itching for that day, so it was kind of disappointing.”

As soon as organizers made the decision to cancel the medieval festival they took to the Internet.

“We were immediately on our Facebook fan page, emailed a lot of our fans and sent out information to the
radio stations,” said Carroll.

The rain-soaked production still drew in some viewers who had not been informed of the cancellation.

A group of actors portraying knights decided to hold an impromptu knight school demonstration for a small group of diehard fans.

“We were packing up the last tent when we noticed that people were beginning to gather in the park,  so we held a little fight demonstration for them and a mini-knight school,” said Johnny Arnold, the festival’s fight coordinator, who also portrays Sir Lester of Sussex. “This is a great community festival and we did what we could, it was really great to have the actors step up; no one told them to, it was just great to see everyone get together and do it.”

Carroll applauded his cast for quickly throwing together a little show.

“That is the kind of cast that we have. Where else can you get 150 people to show up on one day and get sun burnt, and then come out on a Saturday in a torrential downpour and lug everything back and put it away and still have time to perform? These guys are just amazing.”

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