Robin Hood festivities return to Elmira

Gibson Park transforms into Sherwood Forest yet again as Robin in the Hood Festival gets into its post-pandemic groove

Last updated on Jun 08, 23

Posted on Jun 08, 23

3 min read

Robin Hood was spotted in Elmira last weekend as community members and high school students came together to once again transform Elmira’s Gibson Park into Sherwood Forest.

The home-grown medieval festival was back for its 23rd year (minus two years lost because of the pandemic) and Elmira District Secondary School students and community volunteers could be found, along with visitors, roaming the park dressed up as nobles, princesses, jugglers, knights, bandits, and all manner of medieval folk.

Brian Lubberts, the Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival’s advertising director, says it was good to be back doing the festival for the second time post-pandemic.

“We’re just happy to be back in full swing after the pandemic,” he said, noting the COVID-19 crisis took the wind out of the festival’s sails. The first year back was a bit more tentative, but this year saw a return to a more typical festival.

This year’s education day saw 860 school kids come out to attend. Each child was able to take in six workshops, said Lubberts. Workshops ranged in topics such as law and order, heraldry, fight tournaments and medieval medicine, among others.

The main festival included a dramatic story line that was acted out throughout the day, plus various demonstrations such as stage combat, and blacksmithing.

This year’s festival also welcomed more than 60 vendors, said Lubberts. The cast and crew tore the whole thing down and were out of the park by the end of Saturday. Then they had a celebration the next day to hand out awards recognizing the challenges and successes of this year’s festival.

Lubberts started volunteering in 2007, when his eldest son was in high school and began participating in Robin in the Hood.

“Since he didn’t drive, I drove him to the practices. And then I thought, ‘Well, while I’m here, I might as well help out.’ So my first year I volunteered and then just slowly got more involved as time went by.”

Today, his kids are grown up, and Lubberts, his wife and some of his children are still involved with the celebration of things medieval.

He says the festival has a core committee of 15 people, plus a board of directors of five people.

“We have such an amazing group of volunteers. When we start planning in January, we’re going, ‘Oh, can we do it? Can we find people?’ And then every time people come forward, and they help out and they just make it work,” Lubberts said. “It’s really a lot of fun when people just bring in their talents and help us make this thing happen. It’s pretty cool.”

This year’s challenges included the heat and regaining confidence after the pandemic, or “the black plague” as Lubberts refers to it.

What’s in store for the future of the festival?

“The vision for the future of the festival is continuing the story, and just continuing to be a festival that can interact with the community,” he said. “We want to provide an educational community event.”

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