This festival, 13th in a row, has fitted in very well with the surroundings of Sudak’s world-famous medieval Genoese Fortress, a branch of the Kyiv Sophia museum, by showing duels of armor-clad “knights,” “medieval ladies,” and a guild town. This year the “battlefields of medieval knights” saw enactors from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, as well as Italy, Poland, and France. And the very “framework” of the historical reenactment was considerably widened – the fest only accepted the participants who wore historically authentic 3rd-19th-century costumes and armor. Moreover, the festival itself became longer. While earlier it lasted for just a week, this time the Genoese Fortress “resettled” to the Middle Ages for a month, with competitions, historical reenactments, shows, and entertainments for audiences being carried out in for “blocks” – every week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The festival director Volodymyr Boltunov told journalists that more than 1,250 historical reenactment enthusiasts took part in the event, and about 450 people were on location at a time.
Last year recreation and tourism experts placed the Genoese Helmet 2012 festival among the top 100 evens that had the strongest effect on the development of the tourist industry in Ukraine. According to the Crimean Ministry of Health Resorts, this year’s festival was even more effective. More than 60,000 spectators took part in the events.
What will always remind city residents of this festival is a “monument” – one of the organizers put up a forged knightly shield with the inscription “Genoese Helmet” near the Sudak Town Hall. It was made with participation of Oleh Kryvoruchenko, an elder of the Crimean Guild of Blacksmiths, as well as Sudak’s residents themselves – every participant in the fest opening could take a hammer and try to forge the commemorative shield.
The Genoese Fortress, universally known for its picturesque battlements, “sank” to the end of August into the atmosphere of the life, delights, and sufferings of Lancelot, a legendary knight of King Arthur, who was busy searching for the mysterious Grail and fighting the King’s enemies. Naturally, what mostly attracted the spectators – Crimeans and numerous guests of the health resort – were reenactments of historical medieval battles, known as buhurts, which required the knights to show a true martial war and willpower. This was also a test for the quality of armor, on which the result of the battles in fact depended.
By tradition, audiences could watch not only the buhurts, which were held twice a day, but also other jousts, such as “sword to sword” and “shield to sword,” melees with double-hilted swords and other medieval weapons, as well as competitions in longbow and crossbow archery, and axe and dagger throwing. And the guild town displayed the works of blacksmiths, potters, embroiderers, woodcarvers, and glasswork artists. They conducted master classes for all those who wished to attend. Besides, anybody could be photographed in medieval armor, which particularly appealed to the visiting dads and kids, while mums could feel as if they had been chosen by a knight.