By Sheree Hoddinett
Come one and all, over yonder to the grounds of Abbeystowe for the 2022 Abbey Medieval Festival (July 9 and 10). After an unscheduled two year hiatus brought on by Covid, the festival is back and promises to be a grand event for all who enter through the prestigious gates. From jousters to Turkish oil wrestlers, dance workshops and re-enactments, with tasty medieval fare to sample, you won’t want to miss a second of being transported back to the Middle Ages.
For Abbey Museum and festival director Edith Cuffe, the prospect of having visitors make their way through the gates once again, is both an exciting and unnerving experience.
“We are really excited to be back,” she said. “There’s a little trepidation in there as well. When you haven’t done an event for two years and then you have to start again and put everything back in place, it’s a big effort to do that. In saying that, I think it’s great that we are able to do it and welcome everyone back again. We’re really looking forward to it.”
This year’s festival almost wasn’t going to happen, but after the board shared their decision with Moreton Bay Regional Council, an offer of support was extended to ensure the festival goes ahead for the next two years.
“As a board, we had made the decision in January not to go ahead this year because we were concerned that if we were to cancel again, it would leave the museum in a precarious financial position,” Ms Cuffe said. “When we informed the Council of our decision, they stepped in and offered support for the festival for the next two years. So, we are enormously grateful to them for doing that and for the Council recognising the significant benefits of the festival to the region to help us out.”
With visitors expected from across Queensland and also interstate, this year’s festival has a little bit of everything for everyone.
“Our festival is targeted for people of all ages,” Ms Cuffe said. “We have a lot of our usual aspects including jousters from Queensland and also News South Wales.
“We have Turkish Oil Wrestlers, Viking displays, dancing music, all those sorts of things we’ve had in the past. But some of our groups are thinking outside the box , so we’ll have a few new fun things as well. One of the things we are having this year is a traditional Ottoman wedding followed by an Ottoman banquet. Anyone who wishes to watch the wedding is more than welcome to come along. It’s going to be great.”
The kids certainly haven’t been forgotten about either.
“We will have our ‘Kids Kingdom’ at the festival, which is an area for the kids to do things like arts and craft and take part in medieval games, there is lots to do,” Ms Cuffe said.
“We also have a ‘Medieval Family Fun’ week coming up in the first week of the next school holidays (June 27-July 1). This will be very kid focussed and there will be lots of medieval activities and fun for everyone.”
The first Abbey Medieval Festival took place back in 1989 and Ms Cuffe has been a part of the entire journey. While she doesn’t have a favourite part of the festival, she does enjoy the different aspects it creates.
“I think I love the sense of festival,” she said. “One of the things we have always tried to do is, when people go in through the gate it is like stepping back in history. I love that sense of festival that is in there when people and visitors are walking around. They’re happy, they’re enjoying themselves, they’re learning because there are so many different things for them to see and do. We also do have an incredible team of support with our volunteers who are able to provide that level of experience. That’s probably one of my favourite things - that sense of joy and celebration that we see our visitors engaging in.”
Final preparation and set-up is expected to commence two weeks out from the festival with organisers already crossing their fingers the rain stays away and it’s nothing but blue sunny skies.
“We’ve had more than enough rain,” Ms Cuffe said with a laugh. “We sincerely hope that the sky gets it all out of its system and come the festival we have beautiful clear skies and lots of opportunity for people to get out and make merry medieval. We’ve seen lots of support from fans and people buying tickets already and we are very grateful to have that support leading up to the festival.”
With less parking than previous years, attendees are encouraged to utilise the park and ride service, as well as joining the fun on the Sunday of the event with Saturday usually the popular choice.
The Abbey Medieval Festival is on Saturday July 9 and Sunday July 10 with gates open from 8.30am at 1-63 The Abbey Place, Caboolture. A medieval banquet is being planned for later on this year.
Visit abbeymedievalfestival.com for all ticket and other event information.