By Ryman Curtis
On Saturday, April 21, the lawn between Hoyt Hall and the Ehinger Center was transformed into a medieval fairground. MedFest, That Medieval Thing’s annual event, is one of Drew University’s traditions. First held in 1986, 32 years ago, Medfest grew to draw support from off campus, bringing in businesses and lovers of all things medieval alike. Dotted around the lawn were vendors, entertainers, and other activities that festival-goers could take part in.
All of the Medfest vendors kept in spirit with the theme. One, Silk and Steel, sold renaissance-themed costumes and jewelry and unveiled new pieces. A pub sold turkey legs and other medieval foods, others had bread and varieties of cooking oil on display for attendees to taste. Christian Alvarado (’18) drew quick portraits of festival goers near Caspersen, while musicians, including a harpist and Drew’s all-female a cappella group On a Different Note, played nearby. Wandering cast members also could be paid for 10¢ to “jail” other attendees for up to four minutes.
A highlight of the event was Jacques Ze Whipper. A mainstay of Medfest for several years now, Jacques performed a whip and magic show twice throughout the day. He started off with teaching the audience smaller whip cracks, but by the end of the show, Jacques whipped a pencil out of his mouth with a flaming whip. Jacques, whose real name is Jack Lepiarz, has a history with Drew as well—his mother, Linda Van Blerkom, was a professor of biology and anthropology at the University. He also holds the Guinness World Record for most targets hit with a bullwhip in under a minute: 70.
Tying Medfest together was an underlying plot that developed throughout the course of the day. Written by Willy Nichter (’19) and directed by Alison O’Brien ( ’19), the plot followed Lady Lance, who presided over the festival, searching for a cure for her ailing father. The castle medic, as well as a traveling alchemist, come to her aid. The medic ultimately disputes the alchemist’s credentials and challenges the alchemist to a duel. As the duel is about to begin, it is revealed that Lance had been poisoning her father all along, and the story concludes with a battle of human chess.
Genevieve Windbiel (‘20), an actor in Medfest and newly elected Head of Combat for TMT, said, “It was a performance like no other. The club works very hard and puts on a great show.” The longstanding Drew tradition will return next year.