Lady Tinania writes: Last Saturday, myself and my partner attended the 7th annual Tolkien weekend. It is an annual, two day event that takes place in the Shire Country Park, Moseley, Birmingham, run by the Tolkien Society and Birmingham City Council. This years theme was The Shire, which incorporated the public launch of The Shire Country Park and its plans for the future.
We were greeted at the gate by Gandalf and many others dressed in Middle Earth attire, and made our way to the information tent to book a tour of Sarehole Mill, which was a great influence in Tolkiens Life. The mill is pretty much in working order and has a miller visit every weekend in August to work the mill. There is information available on the workings of the mill and the surrounding area and how it has changed since Tolkien lived there. Just outside the mill entrance, the Tolkien Society had a small shop with displays of their work and events, including their event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the complete publication of Lord of the Rings. Alongside these were items to buy including Tolkien Society t-shirts, videos of the areas that influenced the writing of Lord of the Rings and posters of film images.
In the Performance arena, the Birmingham Vikings Re-enactment Society were giving a fight demonstration which was closely followed by the Black Adder Morris Dancers. Elsewhere in the Unexpected Party Café you could catch the Greenman Story Teller followed by folk music with Stuart Estell and Allan Recardo, whilst enjoying hot tea and biscuits provided by local Scout groups. While all this was going on, we caught some rather over enthusiastic Games Workshop staff holding a classic good versus evil game in the Tolkien tent before grabbing a bite to eat from one of the vendors on site.
Not wishing to miss anything, we did a quick scour of all the tents before planning out the rest of the day. Starting at the Farmers Market, we moved onto the Activity Tent, which was filled with adults and children making wands, wicker swords and headdresses. I had to have a go and weaved myself a rather wonky headdress which ended up too big for my head! There were also two Craft Tents at the event, both filled with a variety of crafts from local groups and societies. I was particularly taken with Under Capricorn, who sell handmade soaps infused with essential oils and natural products. They had specially made three soaps for the weekend; Gandalf, Mordor and best of all, The One Soap. I just had to have one!!
Moving back to the Tolkien Tent, we listened to Philip Coker read The Scouring of the Shire from the Lord of the Rings before learning about plans to put a permanent sculpture in Moseley of Treebeard on a bed of leaves, with Tolkien and his brother, Hillary. Needing to prove I could compete with the boys, our next stop was at the Archery Range where I had my first taste of archery. Considering it was my first time, I was pretty good, hitting almost all bulls-eyes! Feeling the need for more action, we watched the Birmingham Vikings Re-enactment Society beat each other with swords and axes. It was quite something to see, and some really got into their parts.
Since I had proved myself in the Archery and the weather was turning bad, I needed a rest and a cup of tea, so we settled in at The Unexpected Party Café with some tea and biscuits to listen to Chris Adderley reading from Beowulf. Even though the sound system was unavailable, it was very good and a great way to relax for a while whilst still keeping the atmosphere. So good that we decided to stay in our seats to listen to the Greenman Storyteller.
We had missed the first performance of The Hobbit by Shire Productions, earlier in the day, so we booked our seats for the 5:30 performance and decided to brave the rain and spend some money before the tents closed for the day. Back at the Tolkien Society shop, after much deliberation we purchased some posters and postcards before buying a few nick-naks at the Craft Tents. After one last look around the Tolkien Tent, we took our seats for the performance of The Hobbit. Despite the soggy ground and cold, the performance was excellent, with the actors doing a great job of excepts from The Hobbit, adapted for the weekend by Vivienne Wilkes.
It was a great day out for both those who enjoy Tolkiens works, and for those just looking for a day out. Besides all the things we got to do over the day, there was also guided walks, including In the Footsteps of Tolkien and a Wildlife Walk, and bus rides around other areas that influenced Tolkien as he was growing up, and plenty of activities for children.
For pictures of the event please click here.