Once you walk through the castle entranceway and into the Medieval Fantasy Faire in Fremont, you might feel as out of place in your T-shirt and jeans as you would outside of the fair in chain mail and a feathered cap.
But not to worry - if the anxiety is too much to bear, there's a costume rental tent just inside the gate with enough tunics, cloaks, and breeches to clothe all the serfs in the fiefdom.
The Medieval Fantasy Faire is set to run every Saturday and Sunday in July from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1313 Tiffin St. in Fremont.
Proprietors Bob and Beth Turner are in their fourth year of running the festival, one of many around the country that caters to “Rennies” - people interested in historical re-enactment of the Middle Ages. As many as 1,500 people a day visit the fair.
Once inside, you're no longer in Fremont but in the quaint village of Enchanted Glen in the Mystical Kingdom. The year: 1388.
Despite the relatively small area of the fair, there are more than 30 vendors to visit. And entertainment acts, which begin nearly every half-hour, are sure to engage even the most unruly of ankle-biters - medieval lingo for children - for the duration of an afternoon.
Each day of the fair offers three opportunities to view a live joust in the main arena. Spectators are encouraged to cheer for a particular knight depending on which section they are seated in.
“The louder you cheer, the greater the chance that you will see someone killed!” chides a squire before the show begins.
Sir Eric, riding his steed, Goodheart, demonstrates his skills with a lance by performing the “aerial rings,” in which he catches airborne rings on his lance while galloping across the arena.
Later in the show, Sir Eric puts down his lance and takes up his broadsword to engage the evil knight Toro in a bit of horse-to-horse combat. To the disappointment of some in the audience, no one is killed.
Surrounding the main arena are the vendors' tents, a food court, and several smaller stages for the other entertainment acts.
The Peasants Pub is a large tent with picnic tables that offers visitors a respite from the heat and a place to sit as they snack and listen to the fair's strolling minstrels.
Guests in medieval garb are likely to be seen drinking mead from polished pewter steins and munching on beer-battered vegetables, while more contemporary folk stick to lemonade and perhaps an order of Lord of the Onion Rings.
At one of the side stages, the hair-raising antics of Croup and Vandimir attract a sizeable crowd.
The pair's act, titled “Dangerous Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” is equal parts comedy, skill, and torture. The show includes whip-cracking, fire-eating, and numerous other forms of pain infliction, and even begins with a warning that the audience is to remain seated and calm in the event that either of the men catches on fire.
Melanie Ellis, in costume as a fairy in a green dress and a pair of wings, and her friend, Andrea Lehan, both 10, watched the first joust of the day from high in the wooden bleachers. The girls are both frequent visitors of medieval fairs.
“I like getting dressed up and watching the jousting best,” Melanie said, before turning back to the arena to cheer wildly as Sir Eric threw the dastardly Toro from his horse and into the mud.