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Days of Yore roars back to life in Didsbury

Historical re-enactors descend on Rosebud Valley to entertain and enlighten crowds in Didsbury over two days

DIDSBURY – Amid a backdrop of the sounds of rifle shots, cannons, and the rebel yells of Vikings, attendees of the most recent iteration of Days of Yore wandered encampments in the Rosebud Valley for two days learning about days gone by.

“People tend to think it’s a medieval festival. It’s not. Days of Yore is a living history museum,” said Kathleen Windsor, Days of Yore committee chair.

While the Middle Ages certainly had representation at the outdoor gathering of historical re-enactors, so did England’s Victorian and Edwardian eras, Canadian pioneering days, as well as the years encompassing the First World War and Second World War.

Mountain View Arts Society hosted the 2022 August long weekend event, which hadn’t been held in person since the pre-pandemic 2019 iteration.

“Everyone was so happy to be back in person, the attendees that is,” said Windsor, adding 1,942 people walked through the gate July 30-31.

That’s up by six from the last time the event was held in person in 2019.

While the 2020 event was cancelled in its entirety, organizers held an online event in 2021 that included videos of re-enactor groups orated by a historian.

All eight re-enactor groups returned this year for the live event.

“They were thrilled and excited to be back together," said Windsor. “They haven’t been able to train together for like a year and a half. So, for all of them to be back together was something special. They really enjoy doing this."

The Sons of Fenrir are re-enactors that portray the Scandinavian peoples and culture from circa 800-950.

Heralding from Calgary, they brought to life what it was like to fight and live in a roving Norse warband. Attendees were able to see everything from a variety of period crafting to authentic cooking to intense live steel combat.

The Dragon's Own medieval combat group brought attendees back to the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They even used real weapons in their re-enactment battles, relying on extensive training and skills to bring medieval combat and tournament to life.

For a taste of what life was like in the Victorian and Edwardian era, the Victorian Society of Alberta demonstrated needlework and crafting and played period games while dressed in period costume.

The Edmonton House Brigade members brought back to life the days of the great fur brigades in Western Canada in 1805. Days of Yore attendees had a chance to learn about trading posts, feel animal pelts and learn some old-time skills.

One of the United States of America’s most defining conflicts – the American Civil War – was brought to life by the Yankee Valley Yankees while the 10th Battalion (CEF) Commemorative Association exhibited First World War training and warfare.  

The First Special Service Force re-enactors portrayed a group of volunteer elite soldiers from the U.S. and Canada during the Second World War that saw service in Italy and France.

Vintage military vehicles were on display through an association of collectors, restorers and maintainers of vintage military vehicles called the Prairie Motor Brigade.

A new addition this year was storyteller Calum Lykan – a teller of stories of Scottish charm – who was in the Artisan Alley.

Windsor said about 90 per cent of vendors in Artisan Alley were new this year. They offered everything from bead and metal works, hand-painted clothing and keepsakes, to jewelry and work made with ancient whole grains, along with unique toys and games.

She said the event was a success as measured by the host organization's definition.

"Success for Days of Yore is everybody having a good time. There's a uniqueness in Mountain View Arts Society where money isn't the measure of success. It's like third or fourth on the list," she said.