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Launching into the Middle Ages

by Sasha Hanton

Ambient lighting, the soft sounds of a lute and 500,000 years of history surrounded attendees at the official launch for this year’s Abbey Medieval Festival (AMF) held on Friday 1st of February.

Kicking off with a quick history, Edith Cuffe OAM, CEO of the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology, started with saying “It’s very exciting to launch something that is to us quite a remarkable achievement.”

Starting in 1989 as a simple half-day event with 30 reenactors entertaining 300 people, the Abbey Medieval Festival is now the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Throughout her speech Edith highlighted the major changes to the festival accompanied by visual slides of the Festival’s growth; how they skipped hosting it in 1990 and the large showing of support in 1996 even though the weather was terrible.

In 2002 the festival became a 2-day event which, by 2010 had outgrown the grounds of St Michael’s College so moved to its current location of Abbeystowe.

In his speech Mayor for Morton Bay, Allan Sutherland, praised the dedication and passion of the volunteers and staff led by Edith saying “[the Abbey Medieval Festival] is putting Morton Bay on the map.”

Paul Garcia, Chairman of the Museum Board, presented Mayor Sutherland, the purchaser of the very first two Abbey Medieval Festival 2019 tickets, with specially signed souvenir tickets. The cutting of a celebratory cake marked the close of the official part of the launch allowing guests from far and wide to mingle and enjoy refreshments.

What many people don’t realise is that the festival is a fundraiser for the Museum. It’s a hidden gem tucked away in Caboolture with the festival being the means to fundraise and shine a spotlight on its existence. The museum houses a vast array of pieces from the Stone Age, Roman Empire, Egyptian and Japanese Feudal era to name a few.

Tickets for this year’s Abbey Medieval Festival are on sale now.

What makes AMF so special? – Side column (can we run this down the side next to the main article)

“12 years ago somebody said ‘hey I think there’s a festival up the road there, they might need a volunteer.’ I came over and they said ‘oh, how many days can you volunteer?’ I said all of them… I’m very proud to be here today, 12 years later, representing the biggest, best and most unique of its kind festival in the Southern Hemisphere.” – Paul Garcia, Abbey Museum Chairman

“The Abbey Medieval Festival is a fantastic event for our region and it brings thousands and thousands of people here every year and it really puts us on the map. But what’s even better is to see the local community come out, see the families enjoying themselves, the children learning about our history and just see everyone walking around, smiling and having a great time.” – Cr Brooke Savige

“It’s giving children an opportunity and an insight into medieval history which they potentially would not get.” – Simone Wilson MP, Member for Pumicestone

“No secret I’m a bit of a European history nerd, I studied it at university, so I love this stuff… you just have to come once and you’re hooked, it’s wonderful for constituents of mine in the electorate but also it brings in that tourism which is great for the broader region, whether it’s Morton Bay Regional Council area or the Sunshine Coast, it’s just perfect.” – Andrew Powell MP, Member for Glasshouse

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