by Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The middle ages will spring to life during Norman’s upcoming Medieval Fair April 4-6 at Reaves Park, 2501 Jenkins Ave.
In its 38th year, the free fair blurs the past with the present during three days of live entertainment, historical presentations and arts and crafts shopping opportunities.
Medieval Fair Coordinator Ann Marie Eckart said the fair attracts upwards of 300,000 people every year over the course of its three days. For Eckart, it’s no surprise so many flock to the fair.
“To have fun,” she said with a smile. “To get away from their every day worries. There are so many sights and sounds that will overwhelm the senses and help you to forget about all the worries of every day life. It’s a great chance to escape and take a step across that bridge of time to a simpler time.”
Held annually since 1977, the fair, hosted by the University of Oklahoma, features a little bit of everything. From entertainment, demonstrations, arts, crafts, games and food, Eckart said the fair has it all.
“If you can imagine it, you can probably find it at Medieval Fair,” she said.
This year brings some unique opportunities for fair goers, Eckart said. Among perhaps the most interesting is Cast In Bronze, bringing carillon performances straight into the park.
A carillon is a four-ton musical instrument made of 35 bronze bells played from a modified keyboard with the fists and feet. Musician behind Cast In Bronze, Frank Della Penna, recently performed on TV show “America’s Got Talent,” Eckart said.
“To see it on TV doesn’t do it justice. I’ve heard it in person at the Muskogee and Texas festivals and the bells just have this resonance that goes all the way through you. It’s a very powerful performance and a very loud one,” she said. “It’s just mesmerizing, the sounds of the bells. Imagine the bells from the church tower are now down at ground level and you can see what’s happening and watch it while he plays this carillon.”
For more on Cast In Bronze visit castinbronze.net.
Eckart said act Didgeman and Scarlett are bringing an interactive, educational music experience to fair goers this year.
During the act, performers go over the history of instruments and then pass the instruments out to audience members. By the end of the act, Eckart said, an orchestra has been created with audience members holding various acoustic, percussion and wind instruments.
Among the traditional yearly activities, Eckart said many fair-goers don’t miss the opportunity to be “knighted” or “princessed” by the fair’s royal court at the Royal Pavilion.
Others enjoy shopping from art and craft booths that offer goods such as pottery, stained glass, armor, weapons, costumes, jewelry, puppets and more. This year, Eckart said the artisan vendor jury spent an exceptional amount of time deliberating over the applications to ensure all vendors are of the highest quality.
Parking, $5, is available at Lloyd Noble Center on Jenkins Avenue, located one block south of Reaves Park (benefits the Lloyd Noble Center).
Fair visitors should be aware City of Norman’s ordinances prohibit smoking in city parks. Alcoholic beverages are also prohibited. Pets are allowed, though not encouraged because of the large crowds, and leash laws are strictly enforced.
For more information visit medievalfair.org.
Medieval Fair Free Lecture Series:
Learn about the middle ages — just for the fun of it — during Medieval Fair Free Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the University of Oklahoma at the Norman Library, 225 N. Webster Ave.
The fourth lecture, titled “The Songs of the Troubadours: Courtly Love in Medieval France and Beyond,” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 28. Jennifer Saltzstein, OU School of Music associate professor, will speak.
The fifth and last lecture, titled “The Extraordinary Journey of Finch and Baines,” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 18. Jamie Hart, OU History Department professor, will lecture on the lives of two young Englishmen in the mid-17th century, and how their lives reflect European society of the time.
Highlighted schedule of events:
From live music to dancing, jugglers to circus acts, story telling to costume contests, the Medieval Fair has it all.
In fact, Medieval Fair Coordinator Ann Marie Eckart said there’s more fair than can be seen in a day.
“People should really plan to come out more than once,” she said. “As soon as possible we will have the program up on the website so people can plan their day if they want to. And that will have a list of the artists and the performers and the times and the places.”
Check out our highlighted schedule for the fair’s most popular events. Visit medievalfair.org for full details.
· Human Chess Game: 12:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. every day at the Camelot Stage
· Joust: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. every day at the Jousting Field
· Black Oak Shillelagh The Last Huzzah: 6:15 p.m. every day at the Gryphon Stage
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