For two weekends each year, the clear blast of trumpets mingles with the laughter of children as the kingdom of Hoggetowne opens its gates. Performers in period garb sing and dance in the streets, while knights joust on horseback and magicians captivate the crowds. Tucked away in the enchanted forest of the Alachua County Fairgrounds in Gainesville, FL, this medieval marketplace will come to life Jan 24-25 and Jan 30-Feb 1.
Hoggetowne is home to more than 160 talented artisans from across the country who journey to the Faire to sell and demonstrate their wares, offering medieval crafts such as weaving, blacksmithing, leatherworking, wood carving and glass blowing. Fairgoers can browse through a selection of delicate medieval jewelry or glimpse into their future with a mystical fortune teller.
“Visitors should arrive early to take full advantage of the exciting medieval magic,” says Linda Piper, Faire coordinator. “Each morning all the entertainers greet the Hoggetowne guests as the city gates open to this enchanted kingdom.”
The sound of applause echoes from the Faire’s eight stages, where the forgotten skills of full-flight falconry, gripping aerial acrobatics and old-world magic come to life. Jugglers, knife throwers and gypsy dancers add to the excitement as they fill the streets of Hoggetowne. “Visitors should plan to spend the entire day enjoying Hoggetowne’s enticing blend of artwork, period music and medieval traditions,” Piper says. “People wait all year for this highly anticipated event.”
This year’s theme is “In the Days of Robin Hood,” where you can meet King John, Robin Hood, and his Merry Men. The Tournament Field will host a Living Chess Match where brave knights on magnificent steeds joust for the honor of their ladies and Robin Hood and his Merry Men must battle the forces of evil in a stunning show of combat entertainment.
Visitors can also engage in traditional medieval games of chance and skill. They can shoot arrows or hurl battle axes at targets – or they can navigate their way through a winding maze. Thrilling human-powered push rides, as well as camel and elephant rides, attract eager children and adventurous adults.
After roaming the streets of Hoggetowne and working up an appetite, both adults and children can enjoy a feast fit for a king at the food court. The tempting aromas of freshly baked pastries, blooming onions, sweet potato fries, giant turkey legs and succulent ribs attract scores of lords, ladies and urchins.
Produced by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire draws more than 55,000 guests each year. On Saturdays and Sundays, the Faire is open from 10am-6pm and costs $17 for adults and $7 for children ages 5 to 17. The Faire is free for children under 5. On Friday, Jan 30, a school day, the Faire is open from 9:30am-3pm, and admission is $8 for adults and $3.50 for children. Pets are not permitted. The Alachua County Fairgrounds is located east of Gainesville at 2900 NE 39th Ave. adjacent to Gainesville Regional Airport. Don’t wait in line; experience the convenience of purchasing tickets in advance online at www.gvlculturalaffairs.org, at any Domino’s Pizza in Gainesville, and in person at the Thomas Center. For more information, call 352-334-ARTS or visit www.gvlculturalaffairs.org.