Linda Laforge on running a medieval fair

The first annual Great Northern Medieval Fayre was held earlier this year near Toronto, Canada. The event was held over a four-day period and drew thousands of visitors. Now that all the work is done, Linda Laforge, one of the co-organizers of the fayre, talks to about the challenges and rewards of running a medieval event:

1. Could you tell us about how much time and effort that you had to personally put into developing and running the Great Northern Medieval Fayre?

I don’t think I can count the hours I spent. There are numerous aspects to a show of this nature, from volunteers, actors, costumes, hiring the right acts, and finding ways to get people out to see the show. It was as important to me that the vendors (almost all artisans) who are paying to be there, hoping to make a living are as happy as those who bought a ticket to see the show.

I stopped showing and creating my art 6 months before the show date in order to organize this show. Fortunately, it is a creative venture and I was able to utilize my experience and skills in marketing to help develop promotional material.

2. What did you find was the biggest challenge for you in the lead up to the start of the fayre?

Our biggest challenge for our first annual show, sadly, ended up being the date. There were a few other events that weekend, making it difficult to get enough merchants and food vendors. One of the local school boards also had a new mandate most weren’t aware of as well – no shows past the end of May. It was quite a challenge, but it was overcome with a lot of time, effort and hard work.

3. Now that event has been held, what do you was the most successful aspects of the fayre, and what parts do you think did not work out as planned?

We did get a fair amount of people out, in spite of some pretty iffy weather.
The kids on the education days were happy. I’m proud to say we were able to provide an educational event that was exciting and entertaining.
A few of our actors broke their commitments, which was a huge disappointment.

4. Was the Great Northern Medieval Fayre successful? What do you think you need to do to increase revenues if you hold the event again?

The first show was a success! We had many happy people, including Merchants who tell me they enjoyed it, it was well organized and that they did well.

We do need to have a Medieval Feast next year in a pub setting!

5. Considering all the time and effort you put into the event, do you still want to continue it in future years?

I had a lot of “What was I thinking” moments! A venture like this is a tremendous amount of work and financial investment. There is a potential for a huge loss. Beyond that, not everything comes off as you had planned or hoped. The great thing is, there were a lot of people behind us who wanted it to succeed, and it did.

Although I’ve had second thoughts, and I know I’ll have a few more of those “What was I thinking” moments, I will go ahead with another year, this time, bigger and better.

Now that we have one under our belt, and more local people now know what it’s all about, some local groups are ready to support us, and we’ve changed the date to the last weekend in May, it will be easier. And way more fun!

During the event we also spoke with Linda, this time on film:

Here are some other videos we shot at the Great Northern Medieval Fayre

Click here for more information about the Great Northern Medieval Fayre

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