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Jousting slays the crowd at Mutton and Mead festival

  • Ichabod Wainwright leaps in mid-air from his Wheel of Death at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Jousters compete at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Knights engage in a sword fight at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Ichabod Wainwright loses his hat in mid-air on his Wheel of Death at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Melissa Arleth's cat leaps off her head onto her assistant's back during her Cirque du Sewer act at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Ichabod Waintwright juggles flaming swords on top of a stack of chairs at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Attendees of the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague, watch Ichabod Waintwright with his Wheel of Death Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Jousters catch rings on their lances at the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Attendees of the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague, cheer for Ichabod Wainwright at his Wheel of Death Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Attendees of the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague sit on hay bales while belly dancers perform Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • A young attendee of the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival in Montague watches belly dancers Saturday, June 24, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt



Recorder Staff
Saturday, June 24, 2017

TURNERS FALLS — Their faces hidden by metal helmets and holding their lances and shields at the ready, four jousters took turns charging across a roped off field on horseback.

The field was ringed by bales of straw, acting as bleachers for the men, women and children who watched with fixed eyes. Thundering hoofbeats were interrupted with a clang each time a lance struck a shield.

The crowd whooped and hollered for their favorite jousters, and booed when a pass didn’t go quite as they’d hoped.

Jousting, performed three times Saturday by the traveling performers of DeBracey Productions, is Greenfield resident Daniel Nightingale’s favorite part of the annual Mutton and Mead medieval festival.

Nightingale, dressed in a white shirt given the appearance of being speckled with blood stains, a kilt and a metal helmet with horns protruding from either side, watched the joust with his former roommate Jeff Thornton, of Gill, and Thornton’s girlfriend Jessica Gaines.

From the weapons and armor displays to bagpipe playing, Mutton and Mead’s festivities have kept both Nightingale and Gaines coming back for five years, satisfying their interest in medieval history.

“The people in costume, that’s huge,” Nightingale said.

Caleb Jordan, better known by Mutton and Mead attendees by his stage name of Sir Keegan O’Connor, added to the theme, wearing a red and silver tunic during his jousting and sword fighting performance.

As the newest jouster with DeBracey Productions, Jordan spends Wednesday through Friday training and spends weekends performing across the country at medieval festivals. Being the farthest north he’s traveled, Jordan said he was “blown away” by Mutton and Mead’s turnout.

Thrilling spectators, many of whom approached Jordan to compliment him on a good show and to pet his horse Barossa, makes all the training worthwhile, Jordan said.

“It’s so satisfying at the end of the day,” he said. “You put on three shows, the crowd’s engaging with you and you can tell they’re enjoying it … It definitely makes sleeping at night a lot easier.”

“It’s an experience that I could never define in a simple sentence,” said Jeremy Oliver of performing with the group. Oliver plays Sir Keegan O’Connor’s squire in the performances.

Held on the grounds of the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club, Mutton and Mead featured an expansive market with 65 merchants and artisans selling leather work, jewelry and more. Entertainment, such as the Wheel of Death and Ed the Wizard, kept attendees of all ages occupied throughout the day.

“It’s more of a family event, it’s not just for the little kids,” Gaines said.

Still, Kathy Wilkes, who attended the festival for her second year with her friend Gail Connelly, remembered bringing her grandchildren, and how much they enjoyed the wooden swords and shields, and faerie wings.

“It’s fun,” Wilkes, of Conway, said simply. “I enjoy the costumes and the different craft tents.”

For Connelly, also of Conway, Mutton and Mead provides an entertaining experience like no other.

“It’s something different than going to a movie,” she said. “It’s not your normal fair.”

When the festival closed for the day at 6 p.m., attendees walked back down a dirt road leading out of the field. At the field’s entrance, a sign on a tree read “Mutton and Mead Festival 1210.”

As the road continued, they gradually moved back to the 21st century, observing signs on either side that took them through the years, from when Marco Polo sailed for China, to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to the start of the Civil War and finally, to 2017.

The Mutton and Mead festival will resume Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261 ext. 257