One of the ideas that captivates people most is that of traveling back in time and being able to experience life in the Middle Ages. Although we can’t literally go back in time, we can come closer than you might think. I got a real feel for life in the Middle Ages through a lovely renaissance festival, the Sherwood Forest Faire near McDade, Texas. Since my Sir Kaye Series of middle reader books takes place in medieval times, I was invited to participate at the event with an author table and daily presentations about life in the Middle Ages. The presentation, The Medieval World of Sir Kaye, is one of several that I give in schools.
The Sherwood Forest Faire is a fun, family-oriented event that allows you to dress in the character of your choice for the time period and to transport yourself back to the year 1195. What will you find?
A cannon fires, and the gates open. As you proceed through the gated entrance, you are greeted by:
ladies of the court,
the Sheriff and his men,
and too many others to picture them all: knights on the jousting field, jugglers, fools, kings and queens, pirates, Vikings, and more.
Wending your way up and down the gentle peaks and valleys of the extensive shade-dappled grounds, you feel the embrace of the towering oaks and pines standing guard over the new world you have entered. Their shelter, and the warmth and genuineness of the caring performers welcoming you into their enclave, let you know that you have a new home amongst them.
Entertainment and learning opportunities go hand in hand: blacksmiths, jewelers, candle makers, potters, leatherworkers, and chain mail crafters are just a few of the skilled artisans who share their wealth of knowledge with all who care to learn.
A petting zoo, complete with camel rides, delights young and old alike.
A favorite of mine, for reasons obvious to my loyal blog readers, was the falconry show presented by Sky Kings Falconry. Falconry was a huge part of life in medieval times, and the show represented the sport beautifully with inspiring, well-trained birds of prey.
When you enter the falconry show, you’ll find perches built behind the audience seating. As each of the birds come out in turn, they interact with the trainer on stage and then make low-flying passes over the audience as they glide from perch to perch, snagging their beloved treats. There was a lot of good-natured ducking by audience members as the birds flew overhead, and shrieks of excitement from being able to get up close to these magnificent birds and raptors.
It was my first time to see a Kookaburra, the largest member of the Kingfisher family, and he was a delightful surprise. With the bird perched on the hand, his trainer held his face close and made sounds to the bird, who replied with a volley of cackling noises of the sort you’d expect to hear from a troupe of monkeys! They held a duet of sorts, trainer, and bird clicking and cackling to each other. I could see the real affinity the two had for each other. Here are a few action shots to give you a feel for that experience and the other stars of the show, including an Owl, Kestrel, Falcon, and even a Vulture!
There are so many other wonderful things to see, do, and enjoy at the Faire, but space doesn’t permit me to share them all here today. But my take-away from Sherwood Forest Faire is that if you are the parent of a reluctant or struggling reader, bringing them to a place filled with living history can only help encourage them to search for more enchantment in the form of great stories.
A special thanks goes to Entertainment Director Zane Baker, aka Autouloucous Crookfinger (pictured below), for his attention to detail at this wonderful event, for arranging my participation, and his generous hospitality.
Be sure to check out the Sherwood Forest Faire Summer Camp Programs!