I know there are plenty of people who are totally into renaissance and medieval fairs. I am not one of those people.
Well, to be fair about the fairs, I’d never attended one. And it wasn’t for any particular reason; a chance to do so just never arose. That was until last fall when I had the opportunity to travel to Dubois County, Indiana, for Rosenvolk German Medieval Festival. I was hooked by the German aspect (the kids do have some German blood) and then sold by the promise of mead.
Rosenvolk Festival history
Rosenvolk German Medieval Festival was borne of a mother’s desire to foster her child’s passion. Founder Catherine LeBlanc has a son who, as a youngster, developed quite a love of history and is particularly fond of medieval history. So, as any good mother would do, LeBlanc began traveling with her son to various medieval fairs. Perhaps due to her son’s academic interest in history, LeBlanc had the idea to take these fairs to a higher level. She wanted to place an emphasis on learning about medieval history and make it less about gnawing on turkey legs. So, she began to explore the possibility of starting her own medieval festival.
The search was on for the perfect spot to host this new type of festival. LeBlanc found it in Southern Indiana, at 18th Street Park in the town of Ferdinand. Leaving her native Canada, LeBlanc set off for Ferdinand with the mission of making Rosenvolk the premier medieval German cultural fair in the United States. Rosenvolk is an annual event, taking place each October. While LeBlanc prefers the fair to remain a weekend event, her intent is to eventually expand the festival grounds and establish a year-round medieval learning center.
As mentioned, the 3-day festival takes place every October (2019 dates are October 18, 19, and 20). Weather-wise, it is a lovely time of year in Southern Indiana. Think crisp air, pleasant temps, and colorful foliage. The festival itself definitely caters to families with activities and events for all age groups. Festival grounds are divided into three sections: Masquerade Area, Market Area, and Pirate Area. Each of the areas has its own schedule of events and performances. There is even more entertainment on the grounds’ periphery, including live jousting matches, a crowd favorite. Festival-goers will also enjoy falconry demonstrations, a traveling circus troupe, and even a Viking encampment.
Our family especially enjoyed the jousting matches. In all my years, I’d never witnessed anything quite like it. The jousters weren’t just “going through the motions”; they were seriously battling! It was quite exhilarating but at times I did worry whether someone would get seriously hurt (it’s the mom in me; I can’t help it). But I had to keep telling myself they’re professionals and this isn’t their first rodeo – or, joust. At the end of the matches, the children in the crowd were invited to go for a ride on the jousting horses (at an additional cost). My kids were thrilled!
Another highlight for us was the Ivanovich: Magic and the Impossible show. It is more than just a kids’ magic show; Mr. Ivanovich has a subtle sense of humor that the adults will appreciate. My daughter enjoyed spending time with the Fae of Norsey Woods, a whimsical faerie who oversees games and crafts for the wee ones. And I was pumped to finally try axe-throwing. Turns out I’m not very good but it’s a fun way to release some aggression.
I mentioned mead earlier… I mean it when I say it was one of the main reasons I decided to attend Rosenvolk. For those not familiar with mead, it’s an ancient beverage made with fermented honey. It dates all the way back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome and was also the preferred beverage of Vikings. Mead is making a comeback and I, for one, am a fan. In fact, I’ve sought it out when traveling to places like Lithuania and Ireland. So, traveling to Southern Indiana for mead was no big deal. And the mead on offer at Rosenvolk, from award-winning Black Dragon Meadery in Michigan, was worth the drive. I wish I could have had more but, you know, designated driver and all. I also wish I could have bought some bottles to take home but that wasn’t an option.
If you go….
- Bring your appetite (for food and drink) and some spending money. In addition to mead, there is also beer available in the adults-only beverage garden. Plenty of shopping to be done, too, with vendors selling everything from Welsh cakes to custom-made cloaks.
- Stay at Hampton Inn Hotel in nearby Jasper. The hotel is newly renovated and is immaculate. If you’re lucky, hotel staff member Andy will be working during your stay. He certainly went above and beyond for my family and me and made our stay that much more pleasant.
- This area of Southern Indiana has a strong German heritage and one of the community’s mainstays is The Schnitzelbank Restaurant. It is right next door to the Hampton Inn and worth a visit. Stop into the old-school eatery for a hearty German meal and a stein of beer (or two).
My family and I were hosted by Visit DuBois County for our Rosenvolk experience and received complimentary admission to the festival. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, 100% my own.