Medieval festival to offer more fun, education in 2018

Published 5:42 pm Friday, October 6, 2017

While the Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival’s 2018 edition is still six months away, organizers and volunteers have already been putting in sweat equity at ALMFF’s Fort Dale Road site, making plans and preparations for the next entertaining and educational excursion into history, legend and lore.

“We’ve had a couple of work days at the site recently and we have accomplished a lot,” said Nancy Johnson of ALMFF. “We’ve cleaned up our Queen’s garden, painted the floor and backdrop of our crown stage, worked on the layout for the new historic cookery section and done repairs on the roof of Oak Hall after some damage from high winds among other projects. We appreciate all the volunteers who have come to help us, including Greenville’s own Boy Scouts and their scoutmaster.”

Johnson says there are additional projects in the works in anticipation of the upcoming faire, slated for March 23-25, 2018.

“We have listened to and read the comments and suggestions that vendors, performers and visitors alike made following last year’s event, and are working to make it an even more enjoyable and entertaining experience for everyone involved.”

Among the improvements and additions already in place/slated to take place are: increased seating at the Field of Valor (aka the jousting field) and at the Winged Ambassador’s show to accommodate bigger crowds; a larger array of vendors and food and beverage merchants; expansion of the educational section of the faire with additional demonstrations, and the relocation and remodeling of the historic cookery section to allow more seating and give visitors a better view of the demonstrations.  And for those visitors who simply need a place to sit and rest, more “honor benches” have been added along the lane running through the Kingdom of Dragon Croft to offer respite.

Not only will there be better seating, more food choices and improved educational opportunities at the 2018 ALMFF, Johnson says, there will also be more of ye olde entertainment to tickle attendees’ fancies and bring many a belly laugh.

“We will have a bigger slate of musical and comedy entertainment on our schedule. The Commedia del Arte Mobile is returning and bringing a hilarious interactive play ‘The Lady and the Dragon’ to our faire next year, ” Johnson says.

“And if you love the realm of fairies, be sure and visit Copper Kettle Tea’s expanded fairy tea entertaiment, too!”

A new addition to ALMFF in 2018 about which Johnson is particularly excited: the bald eagle joining the popular non-profit group Winged Ambassador’s educational program.

“Falconer Don Arrowood and his team at Winged Ambassadors have been on a five-year wait list to adopt a bald eagle, and after jumping through a lot of hoops, they now have the magnificent Lady Liberty.”

Lady Liberty, a five-year-old bald eagle, suffered an injury from a fall at a construction site that required her to be taken into human care. After being imprinted on humans, the eagle can no longer be safely released into the wild. Lady Liberty must remain with caring humans who understand her needs. Arrowood has had a custom facility catering to Lady Liberty’s specific requirements built at Winged Ambassador’s home base. There, the eagle is being trained to be comfortable with crowds and to take flights on command. Arrowood has trained several bald eagles in the past; Lady Liberty is the first to be a part of the Winged Ambassador program.

“It’s so great to know people will have a chance to see this symbol of our nation up close—how often does that happen?” Johnson enthuses.

And she is also excited that the Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival has been nominated as Best New Festival (2016-2017) by the Renaissance Festival Awards.

“The nominations continue until November 15, 2017 with the voting beginning on December 1 and running through December 31,” Johnson explains.

“For anyone out there who attended and enjoyed our festival, please consider going to our website at www.almff.com and click the link on the homepage to nominate your favorite performance or merchant at our faire.”

And Johnson is privy to other things visitors can expect to discover when the Kingdom of Dragon Croft opens its gates in March.

“I can tell you that everyone should expect to see the Queen Annwenn clad in blue brocade and ermine for the opening festivities, with a new lady in waiting at her side and a new fairy residing in the Whispering Wood . . . and be advised, fair ladies. It seems the royal couple is trying to marry off the Lord High Sheriff, too!”

For more information or to get a vendor application for the 2018 event, visit the ALMFF website listed above or go to their Facebook page under “Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival.”