Florida Man on the Run

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire 2020

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There are only a few local events which I pencil into my calendar every year. The Hoggetown Medieval Faire, in Gainesville, FL, is one of the few. Held over the last weekend of January and first weekend of February each year, the faire is a cultural institution in North Florida. I’ve attended the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire nearly every year for the last decade. The following guide puts all those years of experience to good use, so you can make your trip a memorable one.

What is the Hoggetown Medieval Faire?

For the unaware, you might be wondering what the Hoggetown Medieval Faire even is? The short answer would be that it is the premier medieval/renaissance faire in North Florida. But you could have figured that out with a simple search. What you really want to know is just why you should head out to the faire.

The longer answer is that the Hoggetown Medieval Faire is a place to escape our modern world for a day. It’s an opportunity to experience thrilling jousts, amazing acrobats, and jovial jesters. You’ll have the ability to dress up in your best medival garb and play “make believe”, if only for a few hours. For locals the faire is a place to come together as a community and have a quirky celebration.

Must See Shows

The biggest draws of the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire are the various shows held through the day. The grounds have nine separate locations where you can catch these acrobats, jesters, and minstrels. Shows run throughout the entire day, many of which are done multiple times. You’ll find your favorites, but there are some which are simply can’t miss.

Without a doubt, you’ve got to attend the Living Chessboard. Held twice a day at the Tournament Grounds, this event is the biggest draw of the day. I recommend showing up about 20 minutes before the start of the show in order to grab a seat in the stands. The Living Chessboard is put on by members of Thieves Guilde Productions. This wonderful and talented group of volunteers put on a magnificent show twice a day during the faire. The Living Chessboard tells the main story of the faire each year and does so with a thrilling fight between good and evil. With hefty crowd participation and plenty of exciting brawls, the Living Chessboard is one of my favorite parts of the faire.

Let’s get ready to rumble!

Remaining at the Tournament Grounds, you’ll be able to catch additional shows focused on medieval combat. The jousting displays are top notch and would be the perfect show for your midday lunch. I’d also encourage you to catch the Birds of the Gauntlet as well. This show focuses on various birds of prey and allows you to meet a few of the birds afterwards as well.

As you explore further into Hoggetown, you’ll come across a scattering a stages. The act locations can change from year to year, so make sure to grab a guide when you come in. If you seek a taste of magic, then look for Issac Fawlkes. A hilarious take on your traditional magic show, Issac is always a crowd pleaser. For pure story telling and audience involvement, you’ve got to see the Davinci Brothers show. No matter how many times I’ve seen the show, I always end up dying laughing. Got a taste for fire? The make sure you catch the performance by master juggler and fire eater Paolo Garbanzo.

Barely Balanced are easily my favorite performers at the faire. To me this show it the perfect balance of comedy and acrobatic skill. Small, Medium and Large are a (mostly) well tuned machine, that have been a fixture at the Hoggetown Medieval Faire for years. If there is only a single show you have time for, make sure that its Barely Balanced. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Barely Balanced crossing the Deleware!

Exploring the Marketplace

A large part of the fun at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire is exploring the shops. If it is your first time to the faire, then I’ll encourage you to stop and look at everything. The market is divided between two alleys, with shops on either side.

I do have a few vendors which I have seen multiple years who I recommend stopping in and seeing. Creations in Glass has amazing blown glass works, many of which you can watch be created right at the faire! You should also swing by Siege the Day. Shoot marshmallows at your friends and family with their handheld and tabletop catapults. If you’re a fan of coins, then you need to check out Somewear Beyond which is a custom coin mint. They will mint the coins right before your very eyes! Finally, I never miss an opportunity to pick up fresh, hot nuts from King’s Nuts.

Beyond my recommendations, there is such a huge variety. You’ll be able to find swords, shields and armor to wage into battle. There are numerous clothiers selling dresses, corsets, and other renaissance clothing. Master woodcarvers, jewelers, and blacksmiths can be found throughout the market. If mystical arts are your cup of tea, you’ll be able to discover goods here as well. Take your time to explore and enjoy the marketplace, you’ll be surprised at what you might find.

Last Bits of Advice

The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire isn’t just for adults. There is plenty of fun available for the kids. The wide variety of performances are mostly kid friendly, minus a few bawdy jokes here and there. The faire also features a number of human powered carnival rides which the kiddos should enjoy. Archery, axe throwing, and feats of strength can also be found in the midway at the far end of the marketplace from the food court. Keep in mind these all cost money, so come prepared to spend or tell the kids no.

As for food, the food court just outside the tourney grounds has ample options. The first stop must be Piper’s Pub. Grab yourself a fruity and fizzy drink in one of their refillable glass flasks. Wizard’s Wine is my personal favorite and you can’t go wrong with it. When it comes to food, we typically hit up the Mediterranean Grille. However, with so many options its hard to not find something.

I thoroughly enjoy the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire every year and I’m sure that you will as well. I’ll be there the second weekend, so if you happen to see me stop and say Hi! This post will also be updated after I attend this years event, so the information is as up to date as possible. To follow along with my adventures live, head over to Facebook or Instagram. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a historically good time at the faire!

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