Immanuel Anglican Church in Wetaskiwin had a wonderful time with its second annual evening of Medieval Feasting and Entertainment. The evening was intended as a fundraiser for the church, and included a silent auction.
The meal, catered by the church, was delicious and fun. The intent was that it be authentic medieval fare eaten by hand, but forks were available if wanted, and historical anachronisms were present in the menu. Potatoes and corn on the cob didn’t reach Europe until after Columbus and other explorers brought them back from America, and our language shows that William the Conqueror did not bring a Mediterranean diet of salsa (with tomatoes then considered poisonous) and plant oils to Britain. Nevertheless, the anachronisms tasted great and complemented the more historically authentic meats, vegetables, bread and dessert. It was especially pleasant to be served one course at a time, with entertainment activities and opportunities to visit interspersed between.
Rev. Hugh Matheson, the minister at Immanuel Anglican, was in full medieval costume and was superb as the host and MC for this Feast of St. Eustice. His knowledge of history, and of Chaucer and other middle English literature added both enjoyment and hilarity. He told of the requirement in Norman England for a baron to host the king and his entire entourage for as long as the king wished to stay at his castle, which could mean as much as feeding and housing six hundred people for a month or so. The king could use this as a way to impoverish and reduce the status of too officious a baron, and it is from this practice that we get the idiom, “eating out of house and home.” Everyone was invited to join in singing newly created medieval words to familiar melodies as in “Oh, where do you go, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh, where do you go, Norman Billy?....”
Four members of the Knights’ Haven medieval re-enactment group came to provide the interactive entertainment. Diners were recruited to participate in competitions vaguely resembling the medieval contests such as sword fights, tests of strength, accurate shooting with bow and arrow, jousting, and the spontaneous acting out of a story as it was told. A simple Scottish country line dance was taught to quite a large number, with the music supplied by a trumpet. The pace was relaxed and leisurely, with opportunities to volunteer for one or more of the competitions, but no pressure to do so.
Creative decorating by Annie Smith and assistants provided a real medieval feel to the hall. An open space down the middle was created by rows of “stone” pillars on each side. Similar looking “stone” walls were interspersed with colourful banners and medieval artifacts. Many attended in costume, which contributed greatly to the atmosphere.
This evening of Medieval Feasting and Entertainment was exceptionally enjoyable, with time to eat, time to talk, time to learn, time to laugh, time to get involved, time to watch. It is an event to watch for next fall.