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Robin returns to his Elmira Hood

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Robin in the Hood festival returns to Elmira Saturday, bringing with it plenty of swordplay and archery, as expected. [File Photo]

Don’t be shocked if you hear the clanking of swords or witness a little outlawry down in Elmira’s Gibson on Saturday. It’s just the return of the Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival.

After a forced hiatus due to the pandemic, the ode to Robin Hood, his Merry Men and the rest of the gang from Nottingham continues a tradition started more than two decades ago.

The inspiration of artistic director DJ Carroll, head of the drama department at Elmira District Secondary School, the festival captures the romantic spirit of the medieval times – the royalty, the knights, the battles – with a story featuring the beloved characters of Sherwood Forest.

It’ll be a scaled-back event as organizers look to ramp up again.

“We haven’t run for a couple of years and we’re kind of just getting back into the swing of things. So I mean, the basic building blocks will be the same. There might be a few less[stage] fights or a few less shows, but there will still be vendors, there’ll still be shows, there’ll be fights. We will still have our archery tournament. All the things that patrons look forward to should all be there,” said Liz Guest, the festival’s director of community relations.

What is normally a two-day festival will be a one-day event. The education day that usually sees about a thousand Grade 4 students has not returned this year. Instead the festival opted to provide virtual educational resources.

Still, the board and committee members that run the festival are looking forward to the event returning.

“I think it’s just a lot of fun for us to run. There’s definitely kind of a small-town, family atmosphere between our cast and our volunteers. For our patrons, it is the day that you can get out to the park and see some really cool stuff. It’s all pretty local. I think most of the time when you think of festivals and whatnot, you’d have to go to a larger city, so it’s nice that it’s here in our backyard that we have this festival running,” Guest said.

The event started more than 20 years ago, and features everything one would expect from a renaissance fair such as shows focusing on the story of Robin Hood or general medieval themes, archery and knight tournaments, and vendors selling food and other items related to that time period.

All this is made possible by volunteers, Guest said.

“We are an entirely volunteer-run organization, everyone from our board of directors, our cast members to our T-shirt volunteers. It’s quite a few of us that it takes to put together every year and we just come out because we love doing it.”

This year’s festival is described as being a surprise party for Prince John.

“After two years of no celebrations, the Prince feels very sad – and the rest of Nottingham has noticed. But Maid Marian, the sheriff, and Robin Hood have hatched a plan to cheer up the prince, to throw him a grand surprise party,” the festival website states.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tickets being sold at $5 for ages 3-14, $10 for ages 15 and up or $20 per family of up to two adults and four children.

“It’ll be fun, we’re just about there. It’s been a long two years and we’re happy to be back,” Guest said.

For more information, see www.robininthehood.com.

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