Gaol set for medieval fair

FAIR: David Wakefield, Kathy McCaskill, Rosemarie Robinson, Kathlyn Wakefield and Debbie Piller, caretakers of the gaol have high hopes for the medieval fair.
FAIR: David Wakefield, Kathy McCaskill, Rosemarie Robinson, Kathlyn Wakefield and Debbie Piller, caretakers of the gaol have high hopes for the medieval fair.

A medieval fair will fill the empty halls and echoing blocks of the Gladstone Gaol in June, an event which hopes to draw crowds from all over the state. 

On June 2 and 3, fair-goers will be dressed in medieval costume and accompanied by over 75 stalls that will be erected on the gaol site, all in a bid to raise vital funds for well-needed repairs.

Over the weekend there will be actors, a large food court, belly dancers, Romans, horse archery, stand up archery and blacksmiths spread throughout the gaol, to make the event as medieval as possible.

The idea stemmed from a well-known fair held in Gumeracha each year, and off the back of a recent spring fair, the caretakers of the gaol thought this may be the right event for them.

“We thought we would try it and we didn’t expect it to be as huge as it is going to be”, Rosemarie Robinson, a caretaker said. 

“We have been inundated with people ringing and emailing us wanting to come. The entire gaol is booked out for the weekend, all 120 cells.”

“We thought we would try this one, mainly because we are trying to raise money for the gaol, for the maintenance. We get hundreds of people staying here during the year, but it just needs some TLC.”

The gaol originally opened in 1881 and was fully operational throughout World War I and II, acting as German and Italian internment camp in the second World War, yet was only closed in the seventies due to the Government discovering that the prisoners were still using buckets for toilets. 

With its rich history needing to be preserved, the money raised from the fair will go towards the price of guttering. 

The team have been quoted $49,000 for the gutters, which will stop the rain going into the stone and ruining the walls. 

They hope that this fair will be as successful as the spring fair they held last year, which only saw 11 stalls in comparison to the upcoming 75.

“The fair was successful for what we did, we earned a little bit of money out of it and we were happy with it. It was really a try out to see what we were capable of. We have gone from one extreme to another.”

“It is mainly about the fair, not looking at the gaol itself. A lot of the sections will be closed off because we want people to come back and have a look.” 

The gaol has a lot of hidden secrets and the caretakers hope that those visiting for the fair will be encouraged to come back and explore. 

The fair will be on June 2 and 3, open from 10am till 5pm each day. 

Ticket costs for the weekend are:  $8 adult, $5 children, under 5 free, $25 family of 5, $5 concession.