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Gibson Park now Sherwood Forest as Robin in the Hood Festival takes over

Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men turn Gibson Park into Sherwood this weekend. [File Photo]

The outlaw of Sherwood and his sword-fighting friends (and foes) will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of Robin in the Hood in style this weekend.

Shayna Meadows, promotions coordinator for the Elmira festival, says it will much of the same activities, with a couple of new twists.

Robin in the Hood kicked off on Thursday with their education day.  James of Kent (Eugene Gostnikov), Squire Christina (Amanda Pavlove-Cunsolo), Squire Cara of Norfolk (Sarah Brown) and Sir Royce (Curtis Lubberts) were on hand to help with the festivities.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Robin in the Hood kicked off on Thursday with their education day. James of Kent (Eugene Gostnikov), Squire Christina (Amanda Pavlove-Cunsolo), Squire Cara of Norfolk (Sarah Brown) and Sir Royce (Curtis Lubberts) were on hand to help with the festivities. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
“Our biggest thing is we’re having a big archery tournament this year. Our actors are going to be shooting and it’s going to be a fancy demonstration,” Meadows said.

Prepare for epic sword fights, like you’ve never seen before, along with all the usual fun you’ve come to expect from the annual Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival.

The festival was created by EDSS drama teacher DJ Carroll and offers three days of medieval activities and education. Nearly 1,000 Grade 4 students were entertained at their education day on Thursday, while also learning about medieval life. The students participated in six workshops throughout the day, along with different tournaments.

“Everyone always loves coming back for the fights,” Meadows said. “There’s lots of stuff to do. The kids have a blast. Every year we do a big scavenger hunt and so we have some of our actors. So they get a piece of paper and they have to get signatures, so the kids will spend all day looking for all of the people.”

On Friday they’ll hold their community preview night, where you can get a taste of the festival attractions, free of charge. But they’ll be pulling out all the stops on Saturday for a full day of festivities in Gibson Park.

They’ve got a cast of 130 people, with about half of them high school students, and the other half people from the community and elsewhere. They fluctuate between 130 and 150 people each year.

“We get a lot of people out, which is helpful for our education day because then we have lots of people to run different workshops and anyone who’s not running a workshop, they’re a tour guide,” Meadows said. “So they take the classes from workshop to workshop so they don’t get lost in the park and everyone is where they’re supposed to be.”

There will obviously be knights in battle, but also magic shows, jesters, jugglers, archery, comedy, and musicians. Vendors will be on site too selling handmade items, along with a gypsy fortune teller.

She says to expect lots of good fights this year.

“One of our fights actually is using the castle this year, which will be kind of exciting to see. That one will be fun, and lots of little things.” Meadows said. “Our fights are different every year, so they come back to see what we can do.”

The people who do the fights started rehearsing in February, to make sure everything is safe and they don’t hurt each other or anyone else on the day of. Rehearsals for everyone else started in April, while Meadows and the organizing crew have been working since last summer to plan it all.

With thunder and grey clouds on the horizon as they set up on Wednesday afternoon, she had a couple hopes for this year’s festival.

“That it doesn’t rain,” Meadows said with a laugh. “That we can put on a good show again, same as every year and we can get a lot of people out and that the kids have lots of fun.”

The Friday night show is 5-9 p.m. in the park, and festival day runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, or $15 for a family of five people or less. You’re encouraged to come in costume and with a weapon, so long as it’s sheathed and peace tied.

For a full schedule visit www.robininthehood.com.

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