By Jack James

COVID-19 restrictions appear to be threatening the growing interest in the medieval era – although some experts believe there is a silver lining.

The Abbey Medieval Festival is Queensland’s largest and most popular Medieval Event. Credit: Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

A growing interest in the medieval period has seen re-enactment clubs, festivals and events surge in numbers over recent years.

For example, the Abbey Medieval Festival, in Caboolture, draws record crowds every year. The 2019 festival saw more than 30,000 visitors and over 1000 re-enactors – a 10 per cent rise from 2018.

Kate Walters, marketing assistant at the Abbey, says guests who visit the festival feel like they’re stepping inside a whole new world.

“There’s always like blacksmiths doing their thing, there’s jousters, there are swordfights – and you know it’s not something you’d experience every day,” she said.

Feudal Fight Knight Clubs – a full combat sport where competitors dress in armour and fight with blunted metal weapons in a steel ring – are also popping up in every realm.

Saturday Knight Fights, hosted by Tyr’s Warriors Gym in Toowoomba, will host teams from Gladstone, Brisbane, Bundaberg and Townsville on October 31st.

President and Champion of Tyr’s Warriors, Jaccob Dawes, runs the event and says the gym has been an immense success.

“Within a year… we’ve grown ridiculously fast,” he said.

Some re-enactors spend thousands on armour and weapons. Credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

But now event organisers, such as Ms Walters, fear COVID-19 is challenging to bring the industry down.

“Everything’s still a little bit up in the air on what’s going on next year and if we will be allowed to have it take place. Always fingers crossed that we will…but… yeah,” she said.

The cancellation of the 2020 Abbey Medieval Festival was a major blow – the festival is a crucial fundraiser for the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology – who host and run the event.

History buff, Jack Carter, has been a keen re-enactor for more than four years.

He believes crowd restrictions and limits on social gathering will be devastating.

“It poses quite a large threat. Without the community this hobby dies,” he said.

Mr Dawes also says COVID restrictions have forced him to halve the number of spectators at his gym.

However, the Toowoomba Fight Knight Champion believes the impact of COVID hasn’t been all bad – and has actually brought in some new members.

“COVID has kind of helped us. You go play football, you have got to physically contact each other. We’ve got armour and fake helmets on – you’re not really copping any contact. A lot of people have said oh, well this is good.” he said.

Like the rest of the world, fans of the medieval times won’t know the full impact of COVID-19, until it all plays out.

Listen to Jack James’s audio report here: