Tomorrow: The University of Oklahoma`s 28th Annual Medieval Fair – hmmm, since it`s past midnight I suppose it`s actually later on today.
We are packing a picnic lunch and leaving out early to enjoy the festivities. Gaelynn is very excited, as she is very much fixated with all things feudal. This will actually be Israel`s second visit, because we took him last year, even though he was only a few days old.
I`ve been to a few of these shindigs in my day, and I have to say that Norman`s rendition is my personal favorite.
It has an intimate atmosphere that is distinctly `Norman`.
Thus spoke the OU Daily:
Norman goes Medieval
Discover the crafts, music, food and games of the Middle Ages at the fourth-largest event in Oklahoma, Norman’s 28th annual Medieval Fair.
The fair will be held in Reaves Park from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Similar to European wholesale and retail markets of the time period, the fair includes jousting tournaments, medieval craftsmen, a human chess game, Spanish Gaelic Dancers and a variety of musicians.
“We tried to reflect history as accurately as we can with the characters, costumes, music and all aspects of the fair to make it both an entertaining and educational experience,” said Linda Linn, Medieval Fair coordinator.
200,000 to 275,000 people are expected to attend, Linn said. Unlike most fairs, which cost around $15 in admission, Norman’s Medieval Fair has no entry fee.
About 235 artists and craftsmen will be at the fair. Some of the craftsmen include blacksmiths, jewelry makers and soap makers.
One craftswoman, Lisa Heller, will make beads, necklaces and earrings out of polymer clay. Heller has attended the fair for four years and practiced the art for 11 years.
“I enjoy going not for the money, but for the people in the crowd and to look at all of the costumes,” Heller said.
Bill Johnson, woodmaker and retired Norman policeman, will be selling small kitchen items including vases, bowls and goblets. Johnson said he has practiced woodmaking for most of his life but started making more items to sell after he retired in 1998.
Along with the artists and craftsmen, a variety of music, including Scottish-, Celtic- and Renaissance-style bands, will be performed at the fair.
A local Celtic band called Calliope House will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the Unicorn Stage. The band will also have a booth set up by the food concessions.
Calliope House member Jacque Rapp said the band started playing together two years ago. Rapp, along with the three other band members, plays several instruments including the banjo, guitar and piano.
More than 36 concessions with American, German, Mexican, Indian and French foods will be at the fair, Linn said.
The event will begin with an opening ceremony each day by the royal court. The court is headed by King Alfred the Great, played by Ron DeLuca, Norman resident.
DeLuca said he was a student when the fair began and started as an executioner before he became king four years ago. The king’s duties include presiding over and regulating the fair and making sure everyone is having a good time.
“The character helps me to step out of my own box and act differently when I put on the costume,” DeLuca said.
Jousting tournaments, held at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day, will be presented by the Arthurian Order of Avalon, a group that studies the medieval life for education and entertainment, Linn said. Human chess games will also be hosted by the order and are held at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, will work with parking, support staff and taking down on Sunday. Harold Peterson, fraternity treasurer and meteorology graduate student, said the fair is a major fundraiser for the fraternity.
“The work gives us a chance to see what’s going on within the inside of the fair and talk to performers to get a better sense of who they are,” Peterson said.
Linn said free parking will be available at Lloyd Noble Center and only the handicapped, fair participants and the media can park on the fair grounds.
The Medieval Fair is hosted by the OU Outreach program with help from the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Norman Arts Council Hotel Grant Program. Linn said the fair was started by the English department on the South Oval, then went to Brandt Park Duck Pond in its fourth year before coming to Reaves Park last year.
For more information, visit http://www.occe.ou.edu/medievalfair or call the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau at 366-8095.