Levin’s showground was transformed into a medieval shire yesterday for the 25th annual Medieval Market.
The event started with a grand procession of medieval-dressed characters before knights re-enacted historic battles in the fighters’ arena.
Serena Hobson, the only female fighter in the Manawatu Armoured Combat Club, said she gets the required strength from her job as a dairy farm manager.
“They call us the female unicorns because we’re so rare, so we would love to see more get involved,” she told 1 NEWS.
Ms Hobson said she had never heard of armoured combat before last September, when she decided to give it a go after her friend mentioned it.
“They put me in full armour on my second training and I just went with it.
“After two months I managed to win two women’s national titles in Auckland,” she said, calling the combat sport “amazing.”
Fighters trialled for entry into the Medieval World Championships in Ukraine in May.
Wearing four to five layers of protective gear, which can total 30kg in weight, proved another challenge under the beating sun.
“I’m having to take a water break cause I’m really, really boiling out there… I had to grab some ice,” local ‘Viking’ William Gilbert said.
Children were also able to duel with paper swords, and paint their own shields at the event.
The market featured stocks where people were pelted with wet sponges, a maypole where common folk could try out the intricate dance, bellydancers, minstrels and balladeers.
The event started 25 years ago with 20 stallholders in Manakau, and that number has grown to around 150 traders selling craftware, medieval clothing and tasty morsels at the Levin site.
Manakau Medieval Market Charitable Association chairman Boris Ireland said the event had to be moved from Manakau after causing gridlocked traffic on State Highway One as punters entered and exited.
“Traffic would be stopped from Otaki to Levin and we just couldn’t continue with that. We relieved that problem and it’s grown and grown and grown,” he said.
Mr Ireland said while the market was competing with several other events in the region, several thousand people came through the gates throughout the day.
“All the money we raise (from the adult entry price of $5) goes back to the community and forms a grant for sports clubs, schools, church groups, any non-profit organisation.
“There’s not a huge amount of money in town. A lot of people are struggling, a lot of sports clubs are run by volunteers – money’s always an issue so it’s just another avenue,” Mr Ireland said.
Over the years, the event has raised more than $250,000 for the community.
He said for some families, it’s the only event they can attend together, due to the low adult entry cost and children entering for free.
Creating the market for the community each year is an honour, Mr Ireland said.
“When you see people throughout the day and even up town later on come up and wanting to thank you for it, you just think, ‘Yes, we got it right!’