By Bill Schlichting
People entering Azalea Park Saturday were taken back more than 600 years to a time when European culture was transforming into a new era.
The second annual Renaissance Fair attracted more than 450 people, double the attendance of last year, said organizer Hayley Farr said.
The event included booths displaying vintage clothing, temporary tattoos, soaps and antiques giving fairgoers a glimpse of the 14th century.
Celtic music filled the park as did the voices of thespians and the sounds of jousting weapons hitting against body armor.
The Society of Creative Anachronism's (SCA) Shire of Wuduholt be Secg chapter from Crescent City set up a booth so people could learn about the group that focuses on the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
Wearing their period costumes, members of the society walked around the park grounds answering questions. They also gave a warfare demonstration wearing metal armor and using replicas of weapons of the era.
Whenever the members assemble, not only do they have battle tournaments, but they gather for feasts, and study the arts and culture, said SCA member Sir Thorkil Stormchaser, known outside the society as Ron Gastineau of Crescent City.
Gastineau was appreciative of the turnout at the fair.
"This is a good venue for us to give exposure for the SCA," he said.
The group plans to have a booth at the Del Norte County Fair opening Thursday, Aug. 5, in Crescent City, but Gastineau added that the Azalea Park event is better for SCA because it is more focused on the period.
Not only did members of the SCA and many vendors dress for the event, a few people attending also wore costumes. Those who came in 21st-century garb were not turned away, but had they chosen, costume rentals were available on site.
A variety of costumes were available from Front Street Emporium in Crescent City.
Mila Etzler, representing the shop at its booth, said "Things are going well. It's interesting."
Costumes were rented at the booth, Etzler said.
Adding to the look of the period was the work of Melanie Cook from Henna Body Art in Harbor. Fairgoers could have temporary tattoos painted on their skin.
All natural ingredients, most of them edible, were used to create the body art, Cook said. Having this done was common during the Renaissance era.
When applied to the skin, the coloring disappears with a few washings, Cook said. This kind of body art lasted longer in the ancient times because people didn't bathe as often as they do today. Much of the body art was done on the feet and ankles especially among the castle dwellers. They weren't subject to dust as much as commoners, who often had dirty feet.
While women spent their time dressing up and making themselves look attractive, Renaissance men would involve themselves in sports, such as jousting.
Members of the SCA, wearing metal armor, presented a demonstration of battle techniques.
Members told the audience that the events were games of honor. When a jouster was struck in the leg, he had to fight the remainder of the battle on his knees, as though losing his legs. If struck on his arm, the arm must remain behind his back, just as though he lost an arm.
There also are parts of the body designated as "kill zones." These zones vary depending on the weapon. Again, the game player must "fall to his death" if struck in one of these areas.
Women do not fight, but participate by keeping the fighters in bounds to protect the audience. One fighter explained that when they are in battle, they are not concentrating on their proximity to the audience and, if not stopped, can pose a danger to the audience. The women also serve as referees.
Everyone participating in the event said they were pleased with the turnout. Farr said 15 vendors were there five were new people.
It took about a month to plan the event, said Farr, the solo organizer.
The biggest problem was running out of space. Vendors contacted her at the last minute and she had to accommodate them. Next year she plans to set a deadline for vendors. She also wants to get more people involved in organizing the event.
For the next fair, planned for July 16, 2005, Farr said she would like to rent a larger portion of the park, placing the booths in the bandshell area, and entertainment on the bandshell stage and in the gazebo.
Food and refreshments were available, but Farr said more were needed. Upper Crust, owned by Farr, provided breads and fruits. Cafe Kitanishi on Hemlock Street provided an array of Japanese cuisine in addition to soft drinks. Brigitte Bakes provided baked goods.
Entertainment was provided by Around the Hearth Celtic Music. George and Anwan Leverett played a variety of instruments from different eras. Skits from "All in the Timing" were performed by Foxwell Productions.