02 August 2009

Neuburg's Medieval Festival

To begin the recap of the last month or so, we'll start with the last weekend of June and in the town of Neuburg. I first traveled to the town last November. You can read about that journey by bike here. Walking through the community's streets this time around my friends and I found a much livelier atmosphere. Summer had arrived, and with it the Bavarian festival season.

For two weekends at the end of June and beginning of July Neuburg holds its annual Medieval Festival. These kind of festivals are popular across Europe and offer a taste of life from several centuries ago. Neuburg's festival offered a high level of detail compared to the other medieval festivals I've visited, including wandering minstrels and significant numbers of townsfolk in period clothing enjoying the festivities. The following photograph offers a view of one of the main squares. In its entirety, the festival spread over the streets and alleys of Neuburg's old town.

The streets were lined with booths creatively decorated to look like structures from the 1400s. Vendors sold sweet and savory foods, handmade crafts, and other unique goods that met the overall medieval theme. The two images below help give an idea of the festival's ambiance. In the first picture you can see one of the musical troupes that roamed the streets. The second picture shows a court jester asking for pity from an ice cream vendor through the bars of his cage. Incidentally, the vendor was kind enough to give the jester a free bowel of the frozen treat.

Included in the festivals event schedule was a medieval riding tournament. As the tournament began, contenders, musicians, jesters, and royal guests paraded onto the field. A couple of fire breathers were included in the cast, as seen below.

After some comedy from the jesters and opening remarks, the tournament itself eventually got under way. About ten riders competed for the tournament's title by attempting to hit targets and capture rings while on horseback. The following video clip provides a glimpse of one rider's turn.

At one point the tournament's judge was forced to resolve the dispute between two arguing gentlemen. One of the men claimed that the other had refused to offer reimbursement for cases of beer taken from the accuser's home village a few kilometers from Neuburg. The judicial process came in the form of a two-round sword fight between the men. In the end, the accuser won. Aside from this incident, the tournament seemed mostly unchoreographed.

Our last event at the festival was a medieval fire show consisiting of more fire breathers and other pyrotechnics. Afterwards we returned to Eichstätt and a new week of classes at the university. Our wait for another festival however would last only five days.

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