Weather fails to dampen spirits of medieval festival-goers

More than 10,000 people are estimated to have braved sometimes inclement weather to attend Winterfest, the medieval fair held at Clarendon on the weekend.

Organisers have hailed the event a big success despite occasional bad weather and reports of severe head injuries to a fighter taking part in the buhurt competition, which have been described as "categorically untrue" by the sport's overseeing body, the Australian Medieval Combat Federation (AMCF).

Colourful: One of the thousands of colourful characters who attended Winterfest on the weekend. Pictures: Geoff Jones.

Colourful: One of the thousands of colourful characters who attended Winterfest on the weekend. Pictures: Geoff Jones.

Blow to head: Mr Toohey is taken to the CareFlight helicopter for transportation to Westmead Hospital.

Blow to head: Mr Toohey is taken to the CareFlight helicopter for transportation to Westmead Hospital.

Organiser Andrew Beattie said the festival was "growing and growing" and that all feedback received from the weekend had been positive.

"We've had so much feedback and 100 per cent of it has been positive," he told the Gazette on Monday. "We've already got people wanting to buy tickets to next year's event."

Both Mr Beattie and the AMCF have poured cold water on reports of a severe injury to a medieval fighter at the event.

Mitch Toohey, 21, from Victoria, was injured on Saturday, July 7 when he suffered a blow to the side of the head from an axe during a medieval battle.

Mr Beattie said his helmet did not break or split during the incident despite reports to the contrary, and that there was always a risk of injury with any contact sport.

Medical staff were on standby at the event in case of such an incident, and the AMCF statement said they treated Mr Toohey immediately.

"He received immediate care from event medical staff, who in turn called the state ambulance service," the statement said. "He was taken to Westmead Hospital for further assessment and treatment.

"Various reports have stated that his helmet was cracked, penetrated, or otherwise significantly compromised and/or that the weapon had got inside his helmet to deliver direct damage to the skull. These details are categorically untrue.

"AMCF accredited marshals were overseeing the round and saw the blow land on the side of the helmet. Inspection after the incident showed the helmet has no cracks or significant damage present from the blow.

"The AMCF enforces strict rules and regulations in line with the HMBIA and modern contact sport safety standards to ensure the maximum possible safety for our participants.

"Unfortunately, as in all contact sports, injuries cannot be entirely avoided. The AMCF would like to offer their thanks to the medical professionals who have treated Mitch and wish him a speedy recovery."

The Careflight helicopter attended the scene and Mr Toohey was taken to Westmead Hospital in a stable condition.

  • Event photos: P10-11