The first-ever Norfolk Harvest Festival is coming to Boyne City Aug. 20 and 21.
By Benjamin Gohs
A turkey leg, a sword fight and good old Celtic music … what more could a lord or lady ask for? Attendees of the first-ever Norfolk Harvest Festival living history cultural event in downtown Boyne City will be witness to, and participate in, numerous activities and demonstrations from the European Bronze Age and Colonial America. “We’re going to have traditional foods and music and a living encampment,” said Jon Bautel, event organizer. “There will be traditional games for adults and kids, blacksmiths demonstrating for the public, clothiers who will show how materials were dyed, and loomers showing traditional hand looming.” The two-day event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 20 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday Aug. 21. While the event will be alcohol-free, Bautel said there will be truly something for everyone. “It will feature hand-fletched arrows and will cover different periods of the bow,” he said. “There will be live steel swords, melees, maces – it’s not foam. It’s the real thing.” Bautel added, “There will be an actual Polish traditional dancing group and a mobile village with a Viking longhouse.” According to Bautel, the little village, which will be erected in Veterans Park, takes approximately six hours to complete. Numerous local musical acts including Michael Lee Seiler, Robin Lee Berry, Ruby Williams and Gaeyle Gerrie will be providing traditional period music. While this may be the first type of this event for Boyne, it won’t be new to Bautel who is a member of the Family of the Five Lakes in conjunction with the Farmhouse Music Organization. “We’ve been planning this for over two years,” Bautel said. “We are a living history educational foundation that goes around and, through period reenactment performances and talks, we bring education to school systems and for the public to help get them connected to the old way of doing things.” Not only is this a valuable tool for local entertainment and education, but Bautel said these kinds of events tend to help with tourism as well. “We’re estimating 600 people on the low end, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 1,000 people come,” he said. “We have had small events in Ohio, where we brought in 5,000 people.” Another perk, Bautel said, is that the event is free of charge. “We’re not pocketing any money from this event,” he said. “We are asking for donations of non-perishable food, gently-used clothing or even monetary donations which all will stay in Boyne City and go to area charities like Cancer Crusaders, Compassionate Hearts, the humane society, the Mana Project.” Those looking for an authentic performance will enjoy this event, said Bautel. “Some of the guys in our group have been doing this work for 20 years,” he said. “This is not just a bunch of backyard guys. They are seriously interested and well-researched in everything they are doing.” Including Bautel, who will be seen working in period clothing during the event, there will be nearly two dozen re-enactors giving demonstrations on crafts, cooking and more. “Our hope is that the community enjoys themselves and walks away with some knowledge they did not have before,” Bautel said. “Come see for yourselves what it’s like in the 500s and 600s and Colonial period.” He added, “It’s pretty impressive to see.” Anyone interested in volunteering to participate in the event should contact Bautel at (231) 582-1063 The event is non-profit and donations are tax-deductible.