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Medieval Festival draws competitors to Riverhead battlefield

Victoria Cambeiro and her son Aldan, 2, of

Victoria Cambeiro and her son Aldan, 2, of West Babylon participate in a mini joust at the Riverhead Medieval Festival at the Dorothy P. Flint 4-H Camp in Riverhead on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Visitors got a taste of the era at the "Games of Thrones" event that featured a medieval fashion show, children's games, a maypole dance, archery and food. Credit: Randee Daddona

Swords clashed, arrows flew, brave knights bashed one another with axes and blades.

The scene wasn’t a battlefield in Europe during the 12th century or an episode from “Game of Thrones,” but rather the 2017 Medieval Festival.

Cheering crowds turned out Saturday for the jousting at the Dorothy P. Flint 4-H Camp on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

Jason Rietmann, 48, of Lake Ronkonkoma and Ian Weitz, 67, of East Northport, who took part in the live combat competitions with fellow members of the nonprofit re-enactment group Medieval Scenarios and Recreations, said they joined the group because they’d always loved the medieval era and sword fighting.

Among their favorite parts, they said, was the day’s combat competition in which knights fought each other while representing chosen little girls from the crowd. The winning knight would crown his girl as the festival’s “Queen of Love and Beauty.”

“In the Disney world we live in, with knights and ladies, it’s a great experience for the kids,” Weitz said. “It’s like we’re bringing them into a movie.”

Hundreds of people of all ages packed the field for the first day of the two-day festival, which brought a piece of the Middle Ages to the East End with live medieval combat demonstrations and competitions, archery, belly dancers and mini-jousting for kids.

As the sun beat down on the field, James Nevola, 23, of Copiague, dressed in black and brown medieval battle attire, swung and clashed his wooden sword against that of one of the knights in heavy armor in the combat demo.

Though many of the participants in the practice duel against the knights were children or beginners, Nevola handled his weapon with a fluid grace, twirling his weapon and artfully striking his opponent until he was the last man standing.

“This is definitely the highlight of the day,” Nevola said afterward, adding that he loved such festivals “because you can dress up and act like a 4-year-old again.”

An avid fan of medieval shows, Nevola and Amanda Hayman, 21, of Massapequa have gone to such shows upstate and in Sands Point in years past.

“It’s a fun atmosphere,” said Hayman, whose favorite part of the day was the medieval combat and the horses in the jousting show.

Enjoying their weekend in Riverhead, Mike Rozen, 36, of Babylon, his wife, Patricia Rozen, 35, and their two children saw a sign for the festival while driving and decided to check it out. Mike Rozen shared smiles with his 2-year-old son as the father-son duo entered the mini-joust together.

“It’s been fun for the kids,” Mike Rozen said. “And we finally get nice weather for it.”


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