History of the Festival

The Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival is an annual family-friendly event which transforms Gibson Park in Elmira, Ontario, into 12th century Nottingham, England. Audiences of all ages are dazzled by knights in battle, jesters, musicians, and, of course, archery. Numerous merchants line vendor’s row selling jewelry, leather goods, armour, toys and other period novelties, while actors portraying the people of Nottingham entice visitors to play games, watch shows or keep an eye out for Robin Hood and the Sheriff.

The festival is a two day event. It begins with an education day on Friday, attended by over 1000 grade four students learning about medieval life. These students rotate through a series of hands-on workshops exploring history. Our festival day on Saturday opens the park to the public. Visitors can follow the intriguing storyline developing in the tournament ring, participate in medieval activities, or launch siege weapons.

The Robin in the Hood Medieval Festival, founded in 2001, is a not-for-profit organization overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors. The festival is the product of the work of hundreds of performers and volunteers including students, community members and professional performers. It would not be possible without the support of our community, our sponsors, and you!

See you in Nottingham!

Season 1 – Year of the Robin:

Our first year, it was wet, it was small and the Sheriff wanted his stolen gold back.

Season 2 – Year of the Vikings:

Thordan, the Viking King, comes to England to conquer the land. He runs into Robin and the Outlaws who, with the help of the Sheriff and Sir Reginald, repel the Vikings and send them back to where they came from.

Season 3- Year of the Women:

All the men of the kingdom are made sick by the Vikings (who managed to come back) and the women of Nottingham must defend the realm from the return of the Viking Horde.

Season 4 – Year of the Tuck:

There has been a comet in the night sky this year. It is brightest in England and especially over Sherwood Forrest and Nottingham. Many groups have said it foretells of a great event and an ancient prophecy has come to light.

Season 5 – Return of the King:

King Richard returns from the crusades and attempts to restore order in England. Unfortunately his idea of order and everybody else’s were not the same. In the end Robin Hood, Sir Reginald and Prince John team up to get the King out of the kingdom and back to the Crusades….again……

Season 6 – Year of the Opposites:

What if there were two Robin Hoods? Two outlaw bands? Two sheriffs? The people of Nottingham would be in trouble. It was a bizarre year of misunderstandings and mistaken identities.

Season 7- Year of the Sheriff:

The Sheriff has had it with all the whining nobles, the failure to capture Robin Hood and always being compared to his brother so he decided to retire. The new sheriff proved to be far too effective and at some point arrests everyone in Nottingham. All of Nottingham’s citizens had to come together to get rid of the new sheriff and get the old one back

Season 8 – Year of the Family:

A letter has arrived from King Richard who is still away at the Crusades. The letter speaks of family, bloodlines, land and sacrifice but ends abruptly and its meaning is unclear to the citizens of Nottingham. Lady Margaritte calls for a tournament in which the winner will take all of the wagered land from the loser until only one champion is left with all the land. Robin Hood and Maid Marion insist that the king would never have written such a letter and are opposed to the tournament. It was an exciting day instigated by miscommunication but overcome by the bonds of kinship.

Season 9 – Year of the Outlaw:

Prince John has sent the Sheriff away to London for business and appointed Sir Reginald, the Sheriff’s brother, to fill the position in the interim. Sir Reginald decides that the best way to catch an outlaw is to become an outlaw and gathers his guards together to form an outlaw “posse” bent on capturing Robin Hood and his merry men. The Prince is distressed and he is left with only the women of his court. Deeply offended by the Prince’s snide remarks, the women of the court leave to form their own outlaw band “the maids”. Robin Hood and Maid Marion are upset by the sudden influx of “outlaws” into Sherwood Forest and (much to Robin’s dismay) rename the “Merry Men” to RAMBOOP (Robin and Marion’s Band Of Ordinary People).

Season 10 – Return of the Kings:

The Knights, Nobles, Peasants and Royals await the return of their beloved King Richard when news comes that he has been kidnapped. Who could have done such a thing? Who would be brave enough? Who would be bold enough? Who would be dumb enough? THORDAN the king of the Vikings is who! He has returned and with a bigger host of warriors and a new goal of not only defeating all of the best knights and to pay back Robin Hood, but also to take the entire Kingdom of Britain away from Richard the Lion Heart. Warriors and Knights square off, Archery competitions, Epic Battles, Sir Reginald’s not so ordinary family reunion and a loose berserker are only a few of the things the people of Nottingham must deal with.

In the end it comes down to Robin Hood versus the Viking King. As their fight begins it is evident that Thordan shall loose- so he cheats. Richard steps in and takes on his Viking counterpart and defeats him. But as a true villain; Thordan attempts to get one last blow in and kill the King but Robin Hood is there to stop the sword and put Thordan where he belongs…..running home scared.

Season 11 – Year of the Rain:

Within an hour before opening our gates to the public, a nasty storm ripped through Elmira. It left small lakes and large fallen branches in its wake. In the interest of the safety of our actors and our guests, we made the difficult call to cancel the 2011 festival. By mid afternoon the sun was out, and a few late comers were treated to a spontaneous mini festival.

Season 12 – Good Knight Sweet Prince:

Rain again? Not to worry, for Robin had a plan! For the first 2 hours our festival moved to the local arena where we ran a smaller version of all our shows and tournaments. Eventually our famous Weather Hamsters awoke and worked beyond the call of duty to enable us to return to the park shortly after noon.

In this year’s Tournament of Champions, the prince was smart in picking Sir Lester to be on his team. Although there is no love lost between these two, the good knight was honour bound to fight to the best of his abilities for the Prince. Maybe he was too good. Sir Lester won the day for the Prince, and in doing so he won an all expenses paid trip to the crusades to join King Richard. Good luck, Sir Lester!

Season 13 – Fools Fortune

The day starts out celebrating Prince John’s birthday. He receives a letter from his brother, King Richard who is off fighting in the crusades, wishing him a happy birthday and outlines what this year’s tournament rules are to be. In a fit of sibling jealousy Prince John rips up his brother’s letter, setting the wheels in motion for a string of bad luck that would befall him for the entire day. The Prince demands that Sir Reginald and the Heralds create a new tournament based on a combination of Chess and his favourite card game. Three teams are selected pitting the Nobles, Outlaws and Peasants against each other acting as chess pieces to the whims of their three party leaders.

Season 14 – Back to Basics

What’s this? Two sheriffs? Each collecting taxes? The kingdom is in turmoil and Robin Hood’s Merry Band is running ragged trying to keep up in their quest to give to the poor. In an attempt to find a solution, this year’s tournament pits Robin Hood against the Prince in a winner take-all proposition. If the Prince wins, Robin Hood and his band will refrain from robbing the Nobles for an entire year. If Robin wins, though, one of the sheriffs will be sent packing and the people of Nottingham won’t have to pay taxes for a year. The Prince tries to keep Robin out of the tournament by decreeing that only those of royal blood may participate in the tournament this year but forgets that Robin Hood, formerly known as Robin of Loxley, is of royal blood himself as are a few of the other Outlaws. By the end of the day, all were happy to see one of the evil sheriffs packing and celebrated not having to pay taxes for a year.

Season 15 – Fellowship of the Kings

King Richard has returned to a land that is troubled by rumours of missing people, damaged property, monster sightings, and other strange happenings. He and his knights are also faced with a group of Monster Hunters and a Viking hoard looking for these monsters as well. Combat ensues, Robin and his outlaws try to help the king.

Season 16

The Royal Drinking Cup is missing. The Sheriff assumes it must be outlaws. The guards and the Sheriff make life very difficult in Sherwood Forest. The game is on and honour needs to restored, so the sheriff demands that justice be handed out in the tournament ring.

Season 17 – Year of the Hero

Guests have come from far and wide to join in on Nottingham’s annual celebration. Shortly after the festivies began a wandering band of heroes make their presence know. They claim that they are the best in all the lands and issue a challenge to Robin Hood. Robin refuses to fight when they insult him; he refuses when they insult the Outlaws; he refuses when they insult the King. But when they try to have words about Marion? THEN Robin accepts the challenge in a heartbeat. Throughout the day each team enjoys their share of individual victories. In the final battle it is Robin Hood who is victorious, proving once again that the Merry Band of Outlaws are the best heroes in the land.

Season 18 – Year of the Twelfth Knight

Those who have the gold make the rules. King Richard has spent so much gold on his armies that he needs more, but there is none to be had. He approaches the Italian banks and asks for a loan to which they agree. The banks send a representative to Nottingham to check out the collateral the King has offered. Don Giovanni and his entourage arrive and immediately find a way to make more of a profit by entering the tournament. With knighthood as the realm’s twelfth knight being rewarded as the tournament’s grand prize, many are eager to participate. In the end Robin wins, the sheriff is vexed and Giovanni pays off the King’s debts with his own money. After all, how can a bank not like the idea of a King being in debt to them?

Season 19 – Year of the Birthday Bash

Every year Prince John announces that it’s his birthday, but every year for the past 18 years his birthday celebrations have been pushed to the back burner for one reason or another. This year, however, the Prince is standing firm. He shall have his birthday celebration, and nothing will stand in his way! His brother, King Richard, has even sent his personal Harold and the King’s Champion back to Nottingham to help the prince ensure that nothing interferes with Prince John’s birthday.

Unfortunately for the Prince his birthday is once again marred by mistakes, incompetance, and outright sabotage throughout the day. And what’s this at the end of the day? A warning of an impending Viking invasion? This doesn’t bode well for Nottingham for our 20th season in 2020.