Mutton and Mead Brings Thousands Back 800 Years to an English Village Festival

I took off my watch and left my cellphone at home yesterday. After all, I was traveling back in time, to the Middle ages, where a festival was taking place in a clearing in the woods of Turner’s Falls. It was the Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival, and more than 2000 people had joined me to dine on turkey legs, listen to bawdy songs, don corsets and felt hats and revel in the spectacle of an era from 800 years ago.

The long driveway in the woods was marked with signs, starting historical events of modern day, and going back, back through the centuries. One marked the end of the Hundred Years War, then finally we had arrived at 1210, and we made our way to the tavern.  A band of bagpipers called Cu Dubh played on stage, and we passed a booth offering mead, honey wine made in Greenfield. Maidens with flowers in their hair danced merrily to the music with men in similarly authentic attire.

Knights battle at the Mutton and Mead Festival in Turners Falls.
Knights battle at the Mutton and Mead Festival in Turners Falls.

Costumed performers brought Robin Hood, Maid Marian, the sheriff, Friar Tuck and dozens of others to life. Women wore tightly bound corsets with decolletage spilling forth. Men wore hats decorated with long feathers, and some people just came in shorts and Red Sox shirts.  There were booths filled with people shooting arrows, and a booth where a man named Marc showed how he builds longbows out of Hickory. Everywhere there was the spirit and feeling of an English fair in the Middle Ages.

A woman cooked up chicken and a rotisserie turned with a pork steak on it; Chef Lou Ekus held up a gigantic leg of lamb out of the smoker, which he sliced into ‘Lamb Lances;” I settled instead for one of his turkey legs, with the meat falling off the bone. Diemand Farm sold turkey pot pies and Bohemian kitchen from Orange offered hummous wraps and spinach quiche.

Mik Muller, the festival’s organizer, once again should be proud–first he created the soapbox derby in Turners, now this, a triumph that brought dozens of vendors, 2000 people, and a choreographed day of recreated period fun. People like Mik deserve great credit, he galvanized the spirits of theater groups, re-enactors, people who love this period and made a great big day of it. He even brought in horses and knights who jousted and a booth with raptors and another with fencing. Huzzah, Mik, as the characters exclaimed again and again, huzzah to you for having this vision, huzzah and a toast to you for bringing us all together in merriment and song.