Medieval Faire Returns Next Weekend

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Attention all ye knights and wenches! The 21st Annual Lakes Park Medieval Faire is returning to Lakes Park this month. Sponsored by the Riverdale Kiwanis Club, the Faire lasts two weekends – January 16/17, and 23/24 – and features everything anyone could possibly desire to see from that gilded age when lords and ladies ruled the land and the sounds of sword fighting filled the air.

Beginning at 9am and going until 6pm, the Faire will offer a multitude of merchants and artisans, jugglers, musicians and minstrels, live sword fighting, a live combat chess match, children’s games and rides, jousting by New Riders of the Golden Age and much more. Live entertainment is offered throughout all four days of the Faire at eight stages scattered around the grounds. Families will delight in the antics of groups like Magic & Mayhem, the Wash Wenches, the CRAIC Show and the DaVinci Brothers. Children’s games – such as the popular giant sling shot – and period food and drink are also offered. Don’t miss special appearances by the Trafalgar Recorder Group at the Forest Stage on January 10th at 11:10am and the Kelyn Celtic Arts Dance on January 11th at 3:10pm.

Faire Chairman Terry Shore offers the following suggestions for folks to get the most enjoyment out of this year’s event: “First, enter into the fun, dress the part, next, attempt to partake of the language, style and taste of the period. Ogle the women (or men), flirt with the men (or women), and generally relax and enjoy yourself and your surroundings.”

Another reason to attend the faire is to show kids how to have fun without their iPods.

“Patrons can bring children to the faire to see entertainment the way it was done before electronics,” Short said. “There will be entertainers all day long each day on eight stages. The theme this year is ‘Early Prussians and Austrians: 1246-1248, so the live chess matches will be adhering to that. We also have some great new singing acts this year – Ramblin Souls, Kindred Kilts and Chaste Treasure and new entertainment too – be sure and check out ‘The Wheel of Death’.”

We couldn’t resist asking about that one, so Terry offered us a sneak peek.

“This guy, Ichabod Wainwright, he has this 80’ beam that has a cage one end and a counterweight on the other, Shore told us. “It basically goes around like a Ferris wheel, only Ichabod runs around the OUTSIDE of the cage. It’s really quite something to watch.”

Faires like this one offer families a peek into what lives were like during the Middle Ages – the time period between ancient and modern – when people lived in small villages and came together during faires like this one to celebrate weddings or holidays – enabling both peasant and noble to examine wares and treasures from other lands, gain a bargain or sell animals. They were also places that offered respite from hard work and a hard life, in the form of acrobats, jugglers, dancers and actors. Modern faires are arranged to represent an imagined village in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, as this period has been generally considered to correspond to the flowering of the English Renaissance. Also called Renaissance Fairs, they have been popular throughout the United States since the 1950’s – offering a bawdier alternative to bland amusement parks. Participants are actors who dress for the period they are representing and often travel across the country as part of the ‘fair circuit’. They speak Old English and interact with fair patrons – who are encouraged to dress in period costume as well to add to the illusion – according to the characters they represent.

Shore told us that the Kiwanis started doing the Faire years ago to help children in Lee County.

“When the Faire started, it was difficult to raise money for kids,” he said. “So this is, and always has been, a fundraiser for kids.”

“Plus, for $5 a head (kids), it’s a lot cheaper than going to see funky dinosaurs.”

Tickets for this year’s Faire are $15 for adults, $5 for children between 5 and 11, and free for those under 5 years old. No pets are allowed, and free onsite parking is available. Lakes Park is located at 7330 Gladiolus Drive in Fort Myers. For more information, go to www. medievalfaire .com.

Keri Hendry Weeg