Medieval Festival welcomes record numbers in spite of rain

Published 5:08 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Alabama Medieval Fantasy Festival welcomed guests Saturday and Sunday to enjoy living history demonstrations, shopping, food and entertainment. In spite of high temperatures and a forecast threatening severe weather, guests from across Alabama and neighboring states came out to sample a taste of life in the Medieval period.

Event founders Greg and Nancy Ardoin, welcomed groups of families and friends to the Kingdom of Dragon Croft, located at 4776 Fort Dale Road in Greenville, and with the help of volunteers and vendors, hosted living history education, food, and entertainment coupled with a bit of fantasy and a heaping measure of fun, 

“We had a record breaking day Saturday,” Nancy Ardoin said. “The Sheriff’s Department told us on Saturday they parked a minimum of 1500 cars from five or six states. The Sheriff’s Department was there not only in the field parking cars but they were helping our EMTs as well.”

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Guests who attended this year enjoyed jousting, by The Knights Errant, a professional troupe who use authentic warhorses and full suits of authentic styled, period armor. Other entertainers included the singing trio, Chaste Treasure, bagpipers Haggis Rampant, harpist Sophia Monday, the cellist and singer Elizabeth Weaver, humorist Friar Finnegan, and many others.

The family friendly festival draws guests of all ages. Destinee Compton and Cody Cummings of Clanton brought their daughter Isabella as first time guests to the event and enjoyed the living history demonstrations they witnessed there.

“The jousting was the most interesting part of the festival,” Cummings said. “I was expecting the joust to look fake, but it seemed very real here. They had all sorts of cool stuff for sale too and we’re taking alot of that home with us.”

Other demonstrations included observation and food tastings in a medieval style kitchen, an onsite blacksmith, sword play, and a Viking village where guests could see how Vikings actually lived in Medieval times.

Copper Kettle Tea Company and Wild Bills Old Fashioned Soda Pop Co. were on hand offering refreshing beverages and were joined by food options from The Ram and Poni, The Twisted Unicorn, the Candied Siren and others serving food for hungry fairegoers. 

And, while guests enjoyed the festival’s historical reenactments, entertainment, food selections, and shopping options, volunteers and vendors, some new and others returning, say they find a place of belonging among the “fairemily” in the kingdom.

Recently retired military personnel Britany Pierce and Charles Russell attended this year’s festival as first-time vendors, selling hand crafted wooden mugs and “highland cows” from their booth, Finley’s Celtic Place. The couple said they joined the festivities looking for a retirement activity to help them cultivate family togetherness.

“I’m recently retired from the military and disabled,” Pierce said. “We were looking for things we could do to bring togetherness with our family. Everyone is so welcoming here. This fits and we enjoy ourselves very much.”

Christine McElvaine with Fleahop Pottery in Tallassee has sold her wares at every festival held by the kingdom since 2016. McElvain said she returns each year for the fun and friendly atmosphere.

“The customers are fun,” McElvain said. “The king and queen are adorable people. Everybody affiliated with this is very nice and I do well here. I’ve been told by some customers that one thing they like about my stuff is that it’s plain and looks representative of the times.”

The Ardoins welcome volunteers to come out and help. Opportunities are available for all ages and abilities.

Persons interested in visiting, volunteering, or vending at the festival may check out www.almff.com for more information.