DIDSBURY - The 7th annual Days of Yore live re-enactment extravaganza was a resounding success, with more than 2,000 attending over two days, says organizing committee member Kathleen Windsor.
Held Aug. 5 and 6, the family-friendly event took place at Rosebud Park in Didsbury. It was the seventh year the event was held live, with a virtual event held in 2021 due to COVID.
“It was fantastic and amazing,” said Windsor. “We were so impressed. The re-enactors all brought something new this year and it was more participatory for the public. It was all just great. Everybody had so much fun.”
This year’s event feature nine groups, including for the first time the Alberta 18th Century re-enactment group.
The newcomers were historians who covered the period from the end of the Thirty Years War (1648) to the start of the French Revolution (1789).
Audience members and participants came from across the district and beyond again this year.
“I know a lot of people in Mountain View County and there were easily 80 per cent of the people who came and whose face I did not recognize,” she said. “They were from all over. We had a live remote and people were coming in off the highway because they heard it on the radio station. People came from all over and not just visiting family.”
The event garnered local, regional and national media coverage, she said.
Jack Payne was a re-enactor in both the Yankee Valley Yankees and the Victorian groups this year. He is also a member of the organizing committee and a volunteer.
This being his fifth year at the Days of Yore, he called 2023 a hit.
“It was really good, really good,” he said. “For those of us who are involved in living history, Days of Yore is like Christmas. We look forward to it.
“The people who come to the event are always so keen to learn about the history.”
Days of Yore continues to gain in popularity with people both locally and outside the immediate area, he said.
“I think that really bodes well for the event. Good news travels,” he said.
A highlight of this year’s Days of Yore was the many, many guests who dressed up in period costumes, Windsor said.
“More than half of the public dressed up this year and that was cool. We’ve always had a few dress up but this year we had many dressing up,” she said.
Re-enactment groups at this year’s Days of Yore included the following:
• The Sons of Fenrir Vikings, with re-enactors portraying Scandinavian people and culture from circa 800 AD to 950 AD. The group’s activities included storytelling from the Viking age, metal workers, authentic cooking and live combat.
• The Dragons Own Combat group, featuring re-enactments from 1095 AD to 1450 AD. Activities included training exercises, live combat and weapons displays.
• The Edmonton House Brigade group, with members re-enacting the days of the fur trade in western Canada in 1805. Events included black powder firearm demonstrations, storytelling, fur preparation demonstrations and trading post history.
• The Yankee Valley Yankees group re-enacted the Civil War period in the U.S., with demonstrations of field artillery pieces and other weapons.
• The Victorian Society of Alberta group re-enacted the Victorian and Edwardian eras, with events including a school house display, telegraph demonstrations, and displays regarding the introduction of the automobile industry and electric lighting.
• The 10th Battalion Commemorative Association re-enacted the actions of the famous 10th Battalion of the Canadian Army in the First World War, with activities including marching demonstrations and displays of period-piece weapons and other army equipment.
• The First Special Services Force group re-enacted Second World War operations involving mountain fighters, demolition experts, amphibious forces and hand-to-hand combat.
• The Dragon’s Own Medieval Combat Group held re-enactments in period-piece costumes.
The Prairie Motor Brigade had displays of vintage vehicles, including military trucks and other equipment.
As in past years, Days of Yore 2023 also included many artisans displaying and selling their wares. Food trucks were on hand to feed participants and guests.
Weather conditions for this year’s event were perfect, with warm summer conditions, she noted.
Days of Yore is one of the event committees of the non-profit Mountain View Arts Society. There are four volunteers on the committee, including chair Windsor.