Originally Written: September 21, 2016
“After all, what’s a renaissance fair without the smell of man sweat and smoked meat?”
Once a year, the town of Manderscheid puts on a medieval festival for the public. Actually, they refer to it as the burgenfest, which means castle festival in German, because its location is right smack between 2 castle ruins. (Side note: we also heard it called ritterfest, AKA knight festival. Either way, you get the jist.)
The second Alex heard there was a big medieval festival going on at an ACTUAL castle, he was hooked. There was no getting out of this event. (My husband can be a bit of a nerd at times.)
The weekend of the event was hot. Like, 90 degrees hot. We were all a sweaty mess by lunchtime. Unlike the kids, who were rebelling hard at the bright sun, I loved it. It actually felt like a summer day to me, so my spirits were in good shape throughout the event. After all, what’s a renaissance fair without the smell of man sweat and smoked meat mixed together?
It took us about 30 minutes to get to Manderscheid (do I even need to mention the crazy windy roads by this point?) and parking for the event was easy. There was an open lot being manned by workers who directed drivers into spots, and from there we took a free bus shuttle up to the castle.
At the entrance, we could have gone straight ahead to the markets but we chose to hook a right and head down to the main venue.The path looped down a walkway and across a river, dumping us in a grassy field where there were jesters, food booths, and displays set up.
I’ve been to 1, maybe 2 medieval fests in my life, so I’m not an expert on them by any means, but I will say the location for this event was spectacular. If you’re someone who needs the right setting to get into the spirit of things, this festival is for you. When Alex and I came upon the stream and saw all the tents set up with the old castle looming tall in the distance, it really set the mood. It wasn’t hard to imagine myself in that exact same spot hundreds of year prior, listening to similar sounds and seeing approximately the same things. I’ve been to 1, maybe 2 medieval fests in my life, so I’m not an expert on them by any means, but I will say the location for this event was spectacular. If you’re someone who needs the right setting to get into the spirit of things, this festival is for you. When Alex and I came upon the stream and saw all the tents set up with the old castle looming tall in the distance, it really set the mood.
First thing Alex and I did was complete a quick circuit around the tents to see what was happening. The thing I found the most amusing about the setup was each little area had their displays out, and then in the background was their “tent” open to show tables, beds, sitting areas, etc. Like it was really their home. How fun.
Along the way, Landon got to practice his bow skills by trying to overtake a miniature castle. I’m sure there were historical references I could have visualized at the time, but nerd that I am, all I could think of was the ogre scene from Lord of the Rings where they are trying to take down the Two Towers.
There was also a stage with live music, some nice fellows with misters spraying us poor souls with water, and plenty of guests walking around in cool costumes. Made for an enjoyable tour.
At the far end of the field was a big (I use the word big loosely. It was large in German standards. Probably average in American…) with wooden benches set into a hill adjacent to it. Fortunately, this seating area was shaded, so Alex and I took the kids and found a spot to keep cool and wait for the big show that was happening at 1pm. It was quite obviously the “Main Event” for the day as spots filled up quickly and people got really excited while they waited. At the far end of the field was a big (I use the word big loosely. It was large in German standards. Probably average in American…) with wooden benches set into a hill adjacent to it. Fortunately, this seating area was shaded, so Alex and I took the kids and found a spot to keep cool and wait for the big show that was happening at 1pm.
The show started with a narrator talking to the audience; he was nice enough to speak a few words in English. It was quite funny.
After that, though, the show was all in German, so Alex and I just had to guess what was going on. We determined that there was a visiting knight and his crew who were competing against Martin from Manderscheid and his team.
The crowd booed uproariously when the opposing team was on the field and cheered with gusto when Martin was present. I had to admit, the way the crowd got into the show was incredible. It was difficult not to clap and root alongside the people of “Manderscheid” when everyone around me was so involved.
The show lasted almost an hour and had everything from knocking apples off helmets, spearing a target,and grabbing rings from a rope. Then there was a sack spearing event, a perilous poisoned goblet acting scene, and it all concluded with jousting event.
I won’t spoil who won, but let’s just say the townspeople of Manderscheid were feeling very celebratory afterwards.
Alex and I spent some more time after that checking out the markets. we bought a goblet for Alex and a wooden sword for Landon. Because, what kid doesn’t want to feel like a knight at a place like that?
Shortly after the sword precurement, Alex and I had gotten our fill of the festival. There were fireworks happening later in the evening and we didn’t make it up to the actual castle ruins, but the heat had gotten to us. We needed some shade and water and a place to let Evie crawl around and burn off energy. It was time to call it quits.
Overall, it was a fun weekend activity. I loved how detailed everything was, and I could see myself missing the grandeur of it if I’m ever at a festival in the states. I could easily see Alex and I taking Landon back in 2018, when it’s our last year here and he’s old enough to enjoy everything.
It was definitely another successful German outing!