By Richard McGuire
Jousting medieval knights on horseback, fire breathers, musicians and more come to Desert Park this weekend for the third Osoyoos Medieval Faire.
In its first two years, the event drew crowds estimated at 1,200 people in 2016 and 1,500 in 2017. The goal this year is 2,000, said Bobbie Fischer, who has been working non-stop for months to bring the event together.
Fischer took on the project as a volunteer with the Desert Park Exhibition Society.
Fischer said there are more vendors this year, there’s a good music line-up and some of the events have been tweaked so they’ll run more smoothly.
Last year’s medieval banquet, for example, was too logistically difficult to run efficiently. It’s been replaced by a Medieval Madness pub and dance extravaganza on Friday evening.
The new event includes music by Jeremy Messenger and is capped off with Cosmic CoMotion, a circus-inspired performance featuring aerial artists and a Fire Dance finale – that moves outside, of course.
Tickets for this limited-seating event are $25. Cannery Brewery will be selling craft beers and Adega on 45th will be serving wines.
Medieval Madness runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the “Great Hall,” also known as the gym.
The highlight of the weekend is of course the medieval jousting, which brings back the knights, squires and ladies of the Society of Tilt and Lance Cavalry, who are based in Alberta.
The first jousting and horseback games get underway from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Horseback riders in suits of armour charge at each other, striking long, wooden lances that often shatter on contact. It’s a burst of action that in past years has resulted in a few non-life-threatening casualties.
The games include such skill-demanding tasks as shooting arrows at targets from a charging horse or smiting a vegetable on a squire’s head with a sword – hopefully without decapitating said squire.
These events are followed by dog agility demonstrations, dancers, and numerous entertainers, including Bryce Beckett, who walks on high stilts and breathes fire.
A medieval village featuring tents and numerous vendors covers the infield.
There are events for children, including a stilt-walking clinic with Beckett, and mini-lessons on horses offered by Sunshine Riding.
Another joust takes place at the grandstand from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Then, Route 33 plays dance rock on stage from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. before gates close.
Sunday features many of the same activities as well as some added attractions.
After gates open at 11 a.m., Axe Monkey will feature axe throwing for “big boys.”
Jousting and medieval games take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The event wraps up with a concert by Rob n’ Walker, who play high-energy country and classic rock. This band was formerly known by the name of Rob Robertson, who plays lead guitar and vocals, and should not be confused with Robbie Robertson of the classic group The Band.
That concert runs from 5:30 p.m. to closing time at 7 p.m.
Fischer said the stage will be on the infield across the racetrack from the grandstand. Although people may prefer to watch from the grass, it is possible to view it from the grandstand, she said.
There will be school groups coming on Friday morning for tours of the horse barns, Fischer said. She’s also hoping to have some of the jousters in costume take a walk along Main Street Friday afternoon, as they did last year.
Tickets are $20 in advance for each day or $25 at the gate.
For tickets and other information, visit www.osoyoosfaire.com.