Approximately 3,000 pirates, Vikings, medievalists, and civilians descended on St. Boniface on Sat. Jun. 11, 2016.
Individuals from all walks of life participated in the free festivities, from peasants to nobility, and pirates to steampunks. There was live entertainment, historical demonstrations, craft and food vendors, and interactive kids activities.
Marketplace and Demonstrations
At the Medieval Marketplace, vendors sold a diverse swath of wares, including locally handcrafted jewellery, textiles, leather craft, chain mail, armour, and art.
The Norwood Pirate Crew showcased their pirate display and ran a games booth for children. Local history aficionados from The Barony of Castel Rouge and Sons of Lugh demonstrated ancient arts and hand-to-hand combat.
According to Norwood Grove Biz, about 50 clubs, artists, vendors, and organizations participated in the event. A merry band of 10 volunteers also worked behind the scenes.
It was a jolly good time around the stage, with entertainment from Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydance, Simpson’s Folly (British Isles folk), Jay Burns (country/rock), the Craig and Ash Band (country/bluegrass), Dust Rhinos (Celtic rock), and Lindsay White Band (folk-rock).
A pirate bouncy castle and inflatable ship slide, face-painting, and games booths provided entertainment for the barns, fauntkin, and other younglings. A few feathered friends joined in the fun as well, thanks to Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
Later that evening, “a pirate, a Viking, and a Renaissance man walked into a bar” during the Patio/Pub Crawl on Marion St. This is one of the few times a year when local restaurants will embrace unusual patrons like Captain Black Raven of the Norwood Pirate Crew.
“It’s [normally] hard to show up in a bar dressed up in full pirate garb,” he explained. “They really don’t think it’s as funny as we do.”
Norwood Grove Biz has organized a summer festival for the past six years. This was the 4th year of the Swords and Sabres theme. Travelers from all time periods can look forward to the event next year.
The Norwood Pirate Crew
For Michael Paille (aka Captain Black Raven), being a pirate is “a hobby and passion at the same time.”
Paille leads five to ten other local pirate enthusiasts in the Norwood Pirate Crew. They dress up, display their treasures, and participate in events in the community. They also travel extensively to international pirate festivals.
The group is always seeking new brethren. There are no fees to join, other than travel costs. The only requirement is that members have a costume. They meet casually and have been running for 5 years.
The Barony of Castel Rouge
“We’re trying to find those magic moments in the Middle Ages,” said Baron Robin Kyrke. Fortunately for us, they’re not interested in recreating the famines and plagues.
Margret of Castel Rouge says there is a lot of fun and silliness at their events, but there are also complicated skills to learn and practice. Members participate in activities such as arts, crafts, simulated combat, leatherwork, armour making, calligraphy, and illumination.
At Swords and Sabres, Mistress Ainesleah explained how to tablet weave while Lady Al-Zahara demonstrated spinning. Pedro Bedard outlined the time-consuming practice of crafting metal.
Baroness Clare MacLeod said participating in the group has pushed her out of her comfort zone, especially when it comes to camping. They hold a few events per year, such as the week-long camping trip in the summer and a Christmas Feast. They will also be participating at the Medieval Festival at Cook’s Creek on Jul. 16, 2016.
There are currently 30-40 people who participate locally. There is no fee to join the Barony of Castel Rouge, but there are costs to attend events. Members must have at least one full set of attire.
In the summer, the group meets the first and third Sunday of every month at Assiniboine Park near the baseball diamonds. The best way to contact them is through the Barony of Castel Rouge website. They also have a Facebook page.
The Sons of Lugh
The Sons of Lugh present a “living history” of the Viking world from 793 to 1066 A.D.
“We exist to show the public what life was like in the Viking era,” explained Shel Dyck (also known as “Scelhadun the Dubious”), the Jarl of the Sons of Lugh. “The other half of it is getting out with a dull sword and hitting your buddies for fun.”
Safety is paramount in their organization. Warriors use authentic, but extremely dull weapons in their combat portrayals. They are all extensively trained. As Kathryn Drummond explained, “We basically teach how to be safe and not hurt each other, even though it looks like we’re hurting each other.”
The Sons of Lugh also show the kinder, gentler side of Vikings. They demonstrate aspects of day-to-day living, such as cooking, sewing, patternmaking, woodworking, leatherworking, and tentmaking, just like it was done 1,000 years ago.
At Swords and Sabres, Drummond demonstrated tablet weaving, while Zachary Sigurdson repaired his torn shirt.
From their helmets to their leather boots, all of the crew wear historically accurate costumes. “Every last item is meticulously checked for authenticity,” said Dyck.
They make their own clothes, because it’s hard to buy Viking clothing in the modern age. Learning those skills is also part of the experience.
“We’re a really close-knit group. We get together quite often. We’re good friends and it’s lots of fun,” Drummond said with a smile. They are welcoming to everyone.
There is a $50 membership fee to join the Sons of Lugh. Members are encouraged to make their own kit (set of clothing), with help from the group.
In the summer, they meet Wednesdays at 7 pm in Coronation Park for combat practice. Anyone can come by and ask questions. Their largest event is the Gimli Viking Village at the Icelandic Festival (Jul. 29 – Aug. 1, 2016).