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This article was published 28/7/2012 (2155 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
COOKS CREEK — One knight's lance shattered on his opponent's chest in the first joust.
In the third joust, a rider was knocked flying from his horse and it took four people — the jousting armour weighs as much as 45 kilograms — to lift him to his feet.
The Cooks Creek Medieval Festival, on the grounds of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and Grotto northeast of Winnipeg, continues to grow into one of Manitoba's hottest festivals. At least 2,000 people attended Saturday, shattering the previous record of 1,200.
How does a community of fewer than 1,000 people put on such a large, successful festival?
"The way to do it (put on the festival) is to have someone build something special," said organizer Barry Senft, waving an arm toward the historic church that's often called the Cathedral of the Prairie.
The church, with its beautiful cupolas, took 22 years to build with volunteer labour, under the guidance of famed Ukrainian church architect Rev. Philip Ruh.
Church parishioners and community residents volunteer their energies. Funds go to support the famous church. The festival is only held every second year, partly because it is so large. This is the fifth one.
The community really gets involved. Senft rode around on a horse in his knight's outfit, with microphone in hand, MCing the event. Angela Temple and her niece, Sarah Newall, dressed as gypsies and read Tarot cards.
Myles Hildebrand and Scott Gilroyd, who are not from the area, constructed a catapult for the event.
"We came last time and it blew our socks off. So we wondered, 'What could we do? We like crazy things,' " Hildebrand said.
So they researched and built a catapult. There was a small one last festival, but "we wanted to up the ante a bit," Hildebrand said.
On Saturday, they shot a coconut, a turnip, a little blond doll, a frozen Slurpee, a one-litre jug of milk, a bowling ball and a watermelon. The catapult sends objects as far as 80 metres. Hildebrand said they would like to come up with a safe way to catapult "flaming projectiles."
"Fire at will!" a young lad shouted as he let go a giant cross bow. It's actually called a arbalest. Barry James built an "arbalest" after friends Gilroyd and Hildebrand told him about the festival. The arrows — they are extra large and built from plastic plumbing pipe with a sponge tip duct-taped to the end — travel as far as 80 metres, said James, sporting a frizzy Merlin beard.
Spectator Debbie Kereluk and her family purchased medieval costumes on eBay for the event.
"I'm looking for a knight in shining armour," said Kereluk, who was at her first Cooks Creek festival. Her daughter Charmagne Vincent and granddaughter Kennedy wore medieval hoop skirts and braided hair. Charmagne even got her husband, Sion, to wear black tights and a puffy "muffin hat."
Tannis Whitford sewed her own medieval dress. It was her first time at the Cooks Creek event.
"I really like costume dramas," she said.
And if you were naughty last week? There were stocks on hand — the wooden device with slots where you put your head and hands as a form of public humiliation.
The highlight of the festival is the jousting event. Shawn Morrow is the only Manitoba jouster; most came from Calgary.
Bill Redekop has been covering rural issues for going on two decades.
Updated on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 2:55 PM CDT: added slideshow