Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Medieval Fair 2007 (long)

The Medieval Fair in Norman is one of our favorite events. It's only one weekend a year so we try to make the most of it.

I had planned to take the kids on Friday after school -- go for lunch and stay until we got rained on. (The weather forecast made it clear it wasn't IF but WHEN.) But when I checked the radar before going to get George I almost backed out. The band of storms was so big, so strong, and so close that I thought I should probably just pick them up and come home.

And then I thought, "Hey, we're just going to get wet. We can handle that." So I packed a stack of towels, snacks and dry clothes in the car and we headed off to the fair.

Here are George and Charlotte outside of her school. George is wearing the knight's costume that Santa brought him. Charlotte has a sparkly circlet and fairy wand, both saved from last year's fair. Note the rainboots. Really the key to the day was keeping our feet dry!

This is the only picture I took on Friday, because it drizzled and rained off and on. But we had a WONDERFUL time. The kids were obedient and cooperative and all three of us were cheerful and enthusiastic. It was cool but not cold (much easier to be cheerful when you're in the right temperature range!). The fair wasn't deserted, but it was empty enough that any performer or vendor we stopped to look at was glad to see us.

We watched a lot of musicians (Donal Hinely the glass harmonica player is one of our favorites). We all got a chance to try a bowed psaltery -- the instrument maker helped Charlotte play, and taught George "Twinkle twinkle little star."

As we headed over to the food booths for lunch, we saw the king in the royal courtyard. "Oh, look," I said, "I think you can meet the king." So we got in the very short line ... which turned out to be for a knighting ceremony. George was knighted (they took his sword away before hand, which impressed him greatly) and then someone said, "well, I guess that wraps up the morning knightings." We stopped by at just the right moment!

We got rained on for about 10 minutes, but the children wanted to stay and the rain backed off, so we did.

There wasn't any SCA fighting, but we watched part of the Human Chess game -- when one piece took another, they dueled. George loved that. And both kids were entranced by the mermaids -- here's a picture of somebody else's kids with the mermaid who enchanted them. Charlotte was very unsure about approaching her, though, and it took the mermaid several minutes of coaxing and cooing (they don't talk) before Charlotte would walk up to her. I couldn't help thinking about sirens and drowned sailors, but I kept my thoughts to myself.

We looked at the elephant and George talked to her keeper -- Charlotte and I almost had a ride, but she wanted to go by herself and I wouldn't let her. So we went over to the pony rides where she could ride by herself. George rode too (he had to take his sword off so as not to scare the horse) and they both had fun. Then I decided the sky was looking pretty grim and we had better go.

As we left, we realized they were shutting down the entire fair because of the coming bad weather -- only the third time they've done so in 31 years. It started raining as we made the long walk back to the parking lots, but it wasn't too bad until we were almost there. Then the skies opened up! Too bad we didn't start a little sooner. There were a couple of moments there where George almost fell apart. But I kept laughing, and we got to the car, and the dry towels tipped the balance back from "scary & cold" to "funny & unusual."

Here's Charlotte that night, playing Baby Mermaid. Can you see how tired she was?


On Saturday Dean had to work in the morning. By the time we went after lunch the kids were pretty tired. We had fun in a low key way, though -- we watched the SCA fights for at least half an hour -- George lay on the ground with his head in my lap! Although parts of the park were very muddy, much of the ground was barely even damp. I guess it shows how parched the ground has been, because we got 3.5 inches on Friday and on Saturday afternoon I was sitting on the grass.

Charlotte's favorite part of the whole fair was the "Lady Tree." She sure didn't want to talk to her, or have her picture taken with her, but she wanted to follow her around. She kept asking to go find the Lady Tree again.

This is what she looked like most of the afternoon.

George was a little livelier. Here he is trying on a real chain mail coif.

We saw the boy in the helmet (William) everywhere during the fair. He was about 8, I think. He bowed to George every time they met, which puzzled George at first and then pleased him. As we were leaving on Saturday we ran across William and another vendor's child (behind George) and they offered to give George sword lessons for a quarter. "Or you can practice for free," they said. They were very nice to him, and when I gave them a dollar their eyes lit up like they had hit the jackpot.


We went back on Sunday specifically to see the 11 a.m. joust, since we had missed the jousting both days. We wouldn't have had any trouble making it if we hadn't decided to dress Charlotte up in George's old tree costume from Halloween a few years back. It took a while to find, but she was very pleased.
Can't you tell by the expression on her face?

As it turned out, we didn't see the tree lady all day, though we did meet her mother (Grandma Nature?).

This aerialist is resting before her performance. She did amazing stuff up in the air, and then came down and breathed fire for a while. The sparkly blob on the right is George's head; the one on the left is Aidan's. They were entranced; Aidan kept turning to me and saying, "Would you like to do THAT?" I'm not sure how medieval she is, but she was really fun to watch.

We saw this faun, who comes from the same booth as William the fighting boy. Doesn't she look uncomfortable?

Later we ran into William and his friend again. They hailed George as an old acquaintance and then they had a friendly little sword fight. It was just what George needed to make the afternoon complete -- he had been rattling his sword in its scabbard every time he was around other boys with swords, but none had invited him to fight. There wasn't much fighting going on between children -- there's nothing organized, and who really wants their kids to start bashing away at strangers? But these boys were nice and older and fairly careful. At the end they all waved and said, "See you next year!" George wants a more solid sword, and real armor, and a helmet ......

And of course we had the traditional dinner of Medieval Europe -- turkey legs and roasted corn on the cob. Oh, wait, those are both New World foods ..... but it was fun.

We're already planning for next year.

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