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Although the cities of Eureka and Arcata, where I currently haunt here on the Lost Coast of California, are fair-sized towns, this area is by no means metropolitan. Rather, it reminds me of stretches of New England and Maine , with stretches of highway that connect the various towns hugging the shore of the Pacific. So it was quite surprising to discover that this place can successfully host not one but two medieval faires!

But that is precisely what we have, with both the Excalibur Medieval Faire in Arcata and the Medieval Festival Of Courage in Blue Lake welcoming capacity crowds to both their venues a mere two weeks apart. Both feature exciting jousts, costumed reenactors, artisans, craftspersons, entertainers and fantastical creatures, not incidentally a certain wandering spectre quite at him in past or present tense.

 


"In days of old, when knights were bold, and journeyed from their castles..." Some of the wonderful crew responsible for the Excalibur Medieval Faire and their favorite spectre.

 

 


Some of the actual knights of the traveling tournaments try their hand at
mastering the largest rocking horse in existence!

What happened, as simply as possible, is that a single group of individuals decided to go separate ways, and thus were two events created. I've been attending both for the past several years, telling my tales and greeting the participants, along with several of my local human companions, all quite talented and in demand. These include Megz Madrone and her tribal dance troupe, my musician friend Seabury Gould, the mad individuals of the Shoe Box Puppet Company, and various historic guilds, jugglers and street performers. Both events include knights on horseback participating in afternoon jousting matches; there are two traveling groups, one for each event, and both marvelously skilled.

In addition, there are other traveling troupes of fantastical creatures, such as the Goblin Army and their Market, and the Faerie Band and their Tea Socials, that have become fond acquaintances, as well as a number of craftspersons – mug makers, jewelry sellers, weapons dealers and cloak and clothing designers – that have come to recognize my wandering presence, and look forward to our visits. The faire community is close-knit, very much a family, with all the conflict and personal grudges that families will often entertain. But they're also drawn together by the common goal of recreating an era of pure imagination; historical accuracy is important, but much of what is viewed is romanticized to a huge degree, and these vagabonds embrace the time and place that fascinates them so.


A Lord of Faerieland wanders the landscape.

The lovely Faerie Queen (and sometime photographer) Whisper Fae vamping for another's lens. She's normally not that fearsome, I promise...

 

 

Queen Whisper Fae caught Yours truly in the midst of one of my tales
during a performance. I don't know what story it might be from the photos,
but I'm obviously giving it my best efforts!

 

Members of The Goblin Army rest outside of their market and village.

Two warriors face off on the SCA practice field. (SCA stands for "Society for Creative Anachronism".)

Along with the Excalibur Faire and the Festival of Courage, I was recently invited to participate in a new event; or, in truth, the rebirth of an event that had been discontinued. The Ravenswood Faire in Redding, CA was recently held for the first time in many years this spring; it had been a welcome return to a fondly remembered past festival that hadn't taken place for some time. I was very happy to be part of it, and grateful to be asked to travel to Redding to attend; I'd never been to that city and am always eager to explore new environments. There were not only participants from the two local Renaissance Faires, but also from the wonderful All Hallows Halloween Faire in Sonora that I'm a part of, so it was truly a gathering of old friends as well as a meeting of new companions.

I'm told it was an extremely successful event; as I have nothing to compare it to I can't say, but I will note that, despite the usual bumps that occur on the road to establishing (or re-establishing) a new venue, everyone, almost to a person, told me and the others in charge how great a time they had, how wonderful it was to see the Faire back again, and how much they were looking forward to next year. I have to take them at their word; I also had a splendid time (although I was not looking my best at this festival; more you will not learn here, but trust me, the event succeeded in spite of instead of because of my presence).

A passing spectre passes a fine Medieval dressmaker's.
Ms. Amanda and her husband Austin, along with other wandering vagabonds, peasants and pirates.

 

 


Telling one of my fearsome tales as twilight falls upon the Renaissance landscape. The one young lady was especially anxious as the story wound to its conclusion, as you can see.

 

 

Megz and her Tribal Oasis Company perform a Beltaine Fire Ritual; Beltaine is one of the other names given to April 30th, also known as Walpurgisnacht!

A terrifically evocative poster for the event featuring the Goblin Market.

But I did have a terrific time with my companions; watching the antics of Thomas the Fire Juggler, listening to the Black Irish Band (from Sonora , whose lead singer Patrick called from the stage, “Hey Carpathian! Looking pretty good for a dead guy!”) and Tempest (from everywhere, although they travel through Humboldt a great deal; they even had Yours Truly up and dancing to their Celtic Rock!) and especially seeing Megz and her dancers perform a Beltane Fire Ceremony that we'd planned on presenting during Walpurgisnacht, until we had difficulty finding an acceptable venue. It was spectacular and quite inspiring, as was the entire weekend.

When I attend a Medieval Faire, I try very hard to follow the rules of authenticity; I try to tell only stories that would naturally occur during the time period in question. (I also tell my share of non-macabre tales of knights and peasants, also befitting the era; these include some of my human companions' favorites!) Still, I occasionally get a strange, puzzled look as to why I should be found at such an event, as if wandering ghosts were ever out of place during the Renaissance. (I won't go into my arguments here; I'll simply note that belief in spectres was extremely common at the time, and universally accepted, which is why Mr. Shakespeare featured so many in his plays. I'll also whisper the words “Mystery Plays” to you and let you do your own research on Goggle.)

Master Fire Juggler and Artist Thomas prepares his evening dinner...

"Have Ukelele & Spectre; Will Travel..." My talented companion Ms. Amanda and a wandering spirit bid farewell to a fine day's entertainment.
(No, don't ask about my cloak...)

 

 

Now - what are some of my favorite moments from my travels? So many to choose from, it's difficult to say. I've enjoyed being challenged to games of chess by eager young customers; apparently my Cousin's reputation as a chess master precedes me , although I'm not the expert he is. (Not even close, actually.) I've loved listening to my musician friends do some of my favorite music, always enjoying meeting new artists (such as Heartfire). I've love watching Megz and my other dancer friend Shoshanna performing their routines with their respective troupes; I've held my breath as one young human companion fulfilled her ambition of performing her silk aerial show after studying and taking lessons. I've been amused watching the patrons riding the huge wooden rocking horses that have become quite popular with the events, and I've thrilled to the skilled joustings and horsemanship of the knights.


These portraits, and the ones following, were taken at both the Excalibur Medieval Faire and the Festival of Courage (you can see the difference in the skies behind me, but I don't recall which was which) by an excellent photographer named Dale R. Myers. (And except for my own use, these are copyrighted by Mr. Myers.) For some reason he took a strong liking to my visage, and was kind enought to offer to capture it in his very talented lens. I was delighted, as i don't have a great many professional portraits, and thought these splendid!

You can contact Mr. Myers and learn more about his work or arrange for a photoshoot by calling 541-760-6208, or writing to him at the email and address listed below.

 

 

 

 

But I think my very favorite time occurred two years ago, at the festival of Courage. I was wandering about the perimeter of the event, getting to know the location of the various personnel and booths. As I passed two tents fitted narrowly together, a young girl of about seven emerged from between them, preoccupied. She looked up at me and jumped, startled by my sudden appearance, and let out a cry: “A ghost!!”

She went running back between the tents, calling for her friends, telling them that a ghost was around the corner. I could hear the group conversing excitedly, and running in my direction. Four young ladies ran through the tents and stood before me, my startled young companion pointing in my direction.

And her friend looked at me, sighed in disappointment, and said, “Oh. That's only Carpathian.” And she led the others back to something far more interesting, I imagine.

**Heavy Sigh** Fame can be so fleeting…

I would like to thank my ethereal companion Whisper Fae, the Faerie Queen, and fellow performer Amanda Lightfoot-Wright for their photographs for this page, and want to offer a very special and grateful "thank you" to Mr. Dale Myers for his talent and kind permission.

 

 

© 2012 Patient Creatures Ltd.