Meet Merlin

April 26th, 2018
Meet Merlin
Every year Gumeracha is home to the anachronistic sight of people dressed in cloaks wearing shields on their backs and swords on their belts.

What looks like the effects of a wormhole linking 21st century Adelaide Hills to 12th century Britain is actually the Gumeracha Medieval Fair.

One of the featured characters is Merlin the Wizard also known as Forreston’s own Durstin Gray.

Formerly a Snowy River cattleman, it is no wonder that Durstin feels familiar as a character of legendary stature.

Merlin is a celebrity of the Gumeracha Medieval Fair meaning that Durstin can barely take a breath before being asked for a photo opportunity.

“Usually if I’m walking out of a tent and across the fair it might take me an hour to move twenty feet because everybody wants a photo,” he said.

“Kids especially love having their photo taken with a wizard.”

The Gumeracha Medieval Fair is in its 12th year but Durstin started off as a different, kilt-garbed persona.

“A couple of years into it there was a certain need for Merlin,” he said.

“And I was called upon because everyone at the fair knows my skills of being able to predict the weather.

“I’ve never been wrong and they think it’s magic.”

Durstin dabbles in divination and holds his own set of beliefs about the magical nature of reality.

“Magic is an interpretation of something that’s not understood as being normal,” he said.

“And in most cases when you look properly into things they are much stranger than they appear.”

While Durstin incorporates props to maintain the illusion of magic, for him the legendary figure of Merlin was closer to a genius than a god.

“Merlin was an engineer,” Durstin said.

“He was so far advanced for his time everyone thought he was magic.”

Regardless of whether or not King Arthur’s wizard had a hand in building Stonehenge, Merlin has certainly left a long-standing cultural legacy that sees the appearance of imposter wizards.

“There are usually a few other people dressed in a similar way but with fake beards and robes,” he said.

“You always can tell the genuine article.”

As with Merlin, no medieval fair would be complete without an arena of the finest warriors clashing their swords in historically accurate battle.

Each team of knights has their own banners and a herald to introduce combatants.

One of the groups setting up camp at the Gumeracha Medieval Fair is the Ironclad Academy of the Sword.

James Powell is their president and a long-time fan of medieval fairs.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve been going to medieval fairs,” he said.

“A few years ago one of my friends had joined a camp.

“I was watching and I said ‘that’s exactly what I want I want to do.’”

James’s time in the Ironclad Academy of the Sword has brought the opportunity to join in a local TV production.

“I’ve been filming a TV series set in medieval times the Warpath Chronicle,” he said.

“It’s being filmed at the moment by regular patrons of the medieval fair who often come along fully dressed up and get involved.”

When he is not engaged in not-so-mortal combat, James enjoys watching the archery and visiting friends from other camps.

“I like to hang out with all the other people who make up the community,” he said.

“The fair is like our Christmas time.

“We come together and have a lot of fun.”

James is enthusiastic about the fair and encourages people to come along and dress up to get right into the spirit of things.

“The more the merrier of course,” James said.

“And if you don’t already have appropriate clothes then any costume shop worth its salt should have cloaks and plastic swords available.

“We also see a few people every year walking around as Star Trek officers pretending like they’ve traveled through time.”

The 2018 Gumeracha Medieval Fair will be held in Federation Park, Albert Street on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6.

Entry is $20 for adults, $15 for concession and $10 for children.

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