The Swordmaster's Fair
The Swordmaster's Fair takes place every year on the third week after the Spring season begins. The sun is out, but there is still a cool enough breeze that participants won't overheat in their thick layers of fencing equipment. The event is open to both fencers, enthusiasts and also just the general public who come along for the food and entertainment. The fair takes a few days to set up and takes place in city centres and marketplaces across the country. Vendor stalls are made available as well as large communal areas for sitting out in the sun and enjoying the local produce or a crisp glass of sparkling cyder. In addition to these public areas there are also spectator zones with long fencing pistes and one high bar.
PreparationsThe event is highly publicised with lots of posters up around town and in local pubs and bakery windows. Not only are there fun and games to enjoy but there are many challenges and prizes to be won - including great fame and fortune if you win The Grand Tournament!! The Swordmaster's Fair lasts for the duration of one week, and traders bring their crafts to this fair or shut up shop for the week to take part (most of their customers would be at the fair anyway!).
EstablishmentThe tradition of this festival is fairly new and was promoted to increase participants and interest in the sport of fencing to promote a healthy, competitive national sport within the country. Fencing also teaches good posture and etiquette and children are encouraged to pick up the blade from as young as the age of ten years old.
Central Bazaar OpensThe Swordmaster's Fair officially begins and visitors can browse the latest trends from all of the vendor stalls. Enjoy a bite to eat and dance along to some live music or watch the chilren take up toy swords and fence.
The False Hand ChallengeThis challenge is a series of fencing bouts in which the competitors (of any age or ability) must fence with their non-dominant hand. This includes lunging with their non-dominant leg, too! It is very difficult but good fun!
Fencing Agility ChallengeThe agility challenge involves lunging to catch thrown hoops upon your sword, sprinting through swinging skipping ropes and fast balestras (short stampy jumps) over a 'ladder' of swords on the floor.
Mask Making WorkshopSkilled artisans will teach you the history of the fencing mask, along with some grouesome tales of how old designs have failed to meet safety standards. If you create a mask and it passes inspection, you may fence with it during the fair.
High Beam ChallengeThe high beam challenge is for the thrillseekers and involves fencing upon a narrow wooden beam 6ft off the ground. There are padded mats to fall onto but they will not cushion you completely from injury.
The Grand TournamentCompetitive fencers will sign up for The Grand Tournament, in which all participants will get to fence each other in short bouts until by process of elimination a winner is crowned Swordmaster of the festival.
The Feast of ChampionsOn the final day of the event, a great feast is held to celebrate the winner of The Grand Tournament. There is lots of live music and celebrations last long into the night. Out of the watchful eyes of now drunken parents, local fencing challenges are often invented by daring youngsters such as lunging over bonfires or fencing with heated blades.
SouvenirsFor every event someone participates in (from entry to professional level) they may receive one decorative fair token which can be used in part exchange for food, gifts and souvenirs at the fair. For children:
- plush toys
- rollled up fencing piste mats
- children's wooden swords
- children's wicker masks
- participation medals and trophies
- decorated masks
- ornamental masks
- ornate swords
- embroidered jackets, breeches and plastrons
- sock ribbons
- vegetable and meat sword skewers
- cotton candy on a sword
- ornately carved melon masks
- hog roast
- cheeses and rustic breads
- pastries and meat pies
- preserves and honey
- ales, wines, cyders and sparkling fruit beverages
- fair tokens
- The Swordmaster's Crown - an ornately decorated brass fencing mask with incredible craftsmanship and velvet bib with a padded silk interior