Vikings plunder their way to Valley

Staff photo / Mason Cole The annual Ohio Viking Festival is happening at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds in Bazetta through Sunday. James Seeley, owner of Sword Master’s Challenge, said his group provides “the highest quality foam weaponry,” for its battles.

BAZETTA — As the rest of his crew talked under the shade of a tent at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, Adam Moody stood just outside, stirring away at the orange colored chicken cooking in a pot over an open fire.

Moody, of Cleveland, wore a hood that protected his head from the sun that never seemed to stop beaming down on the annual Ohio Viking Festival on Friday.

As he cooked, the rest of his group, the Lake Erie Vikings, discussed their plan for full-combat fighting.

“Right now, they’re doing a muster; they’re getting everything situated, laying out the rules,” Moody said. “It’s live-steel combat, so they’re using steel axes, swords, dane axes, things like that. They’re blunted so no one gets hurt.”

The Lake Erie Vikings’ encampment is one of many facets of the fair that attendees can visit to get a glimpse of life 1,000 years ago.

Jessy Harper, owner of the Ohio Viking Festival, said the event has seen substantial growth in what is now its ninth year.

“The festival itself has grown about 45% from last year,” she said. “Our presale tickets were six times where they were last year, so that is very exciting. I feel like it’s going to be a very big year this year.”

Harper, of Lake County, credited the festival’s growth to increased online marketing.

She said the festival has continued to succeed every year because of the passion of its staff and vendors.

For many of the vendors, the Ohio Viking Festival is one of many events they attend across the country each year.

James Seeley is the owner of Sword Master’s Challenge, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which allows customers to fight each other or one of the masters for three rounds using “the highest quality foam weaponry.”

Seeley said the challenge originated at the Florida Renaissance Festival in 2017.

“Last year, we did 32 renaissance festivals,” he said. “This is actually our fourth year here. We have an amazing time bringing what we do to new people all over the country, engaging with people, seeing fun new areas, it’s been a true blessing.”

He said the Ohio Viking Festival has continued to grow every year he has attended.

Another vendor who travels the country to attend similar fairs is Jessica Hamrick of Pennsylvania.

Hamrick, who does leatherwork, shares a tent with Pendragon Chainmail and Rob Medley, who is a Maryland-based artist.

“I brought mostly bracers and pouches because it’s a Viking event, and that’s pretty typical of what they would wear. They wouldn’t have a whole lot of leather armor necessarily,” Hamrick said. “I start with a cowhide and an idea.”

Hamrick said both she and Medley served in the military. She said that experience inspired them to want to travel.

“This gives us a really good reason to travel and enjoy people,” she said. “I was actually here the first year they did it. This particular event has been growing beautifully over the years.”

Moody said the Lake Erie Vikings were recently in New York as well as Indiana for events. He said a couple of the members will soon be headed overseas for larger festivals.

Moody said the fair in Bazetta is one of the group’s “home events.”

“It’s nice because we’re all pretty close,” he said. “There’s like 12 different groups here right now so we get a bunch of different groups together. It’s nice to be able to kind of do it in your backyard and show it off.”

This year’s event is focusing on the artisans of the Viking age, everything from how their clothing was made to how their ships were built.

Combatant’s Keep will do jousting matches in the Field of Odin, and the Vikings of Vulksgaard will engage in full-steel combat in the Combat Arena. Children in attendance will be able to engage in a water balloon battle with the vikings each day.

Musical entertainment will include Nordic Daughter, Damh & Dove, Ginger Ackley, Riff O’Connell, Harper Kirk and The Sirens.

Merchants will be selling leather goods, housewares, costumes, jewelry, metal goods and other items, and more than a dozen food vendors will be on site.

Harper said she hopes the event continues strong to “keep the history alive.”

“A lot of it is the people who come here,” she said. “They almost feel like a family to us at this point. We see them year after year and they’re always so excited. That just kind of keeps us pushing forward to continue doing everything.”

If you go …

The Ohio Viking Festival runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.


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