A fairy tale wedding at the Faire

Published: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 4:54 p.m.

He was a dashing swordfighter.

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Christina Stackpole and Dale Easterling will be married Sunday at the Hoggetown Medieval Faire.

Special to The Sun


Hoggetowne Medieval Faire


  • What: 22nd annual medieval festival with jousting, artisans, street performers, minstrels, marketplace, food, human chessboard and pony/camel/elephant rides.

    When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 1; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 2-3.

    Where: Alachua County Fairgrounds, 2900 NE 39th Ave.

    Tickets: $12 adults, $6 ages 5-17; advance tickets available at Omni Bookstore and Domino's Pizza locations.&
  • She was a fair maiden who admired from afar.

    But, as fate would have it, the two were destined to be together.

    Their fairy tale romance began several years ago at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, where they simply exchanged glances.

    On Sunday, Dale Easterling, 26, and Christina Stackpole, 19, will have a storybook wedding upon the same Royal Chessboard at the Faire on Sunday in front of a crowd of thousands.

    His story

    Easterling, an actor by trade, was looking for work and came across a show called the Living Chessboard.

    "I presumed it was a play, so I auditioned," he said. "It was totally an accident."

    What he actually auditioned for was a role as a chess piece for a "living" chessboard at the Faire.

    The life-sized board serves as a stage for the Thieves Guilde performers to play out a live, themed chess game involving swordfights and authentic-looking medieval clothing.

    Each year, the stories alternate between King Arthur and Robin Hood.

    These two tales lend themselves nicely to the black and white sides of the chessboard.

    In 2003, Easterling played a black chess piece called Sindawe, who is an advisor to Prince Storm Shadow, in the story of King Arthur.

    He had no idea that Stackpole was watching.

    Her story

    When she was just a freshman in the Marion County Center for the Arts at West Port High School, Stackpole was eager to get extra credit.

    She and her classmates were among the patrons who came to see the Living Chessboard.

    "I was apparently her favorite actor, but she was too shy to talk to me," he said.

    Each year after, Stackpole attended the Faire and watched the chessboard performance.

    "I was a silly 14-year-old girl who thought an actor was cute," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become this."

    Fate steps in

    Years later, in a Yahoo! chat room Easterling and Stackpole were talking online.

    The conversation drifted to the Faire, and Stackpole mentioned her favorite part: the Living Chessboard.

    Easterling described the roles he played, and eventually, they realized whom the other was.

    After a few weeks of chatting, Easterling offered to bring her to a Living Chessboard rehearsal as "a friend."

    "Love at first sight is misleading," he said. "It was more like love at first meeting."

    The two clicked immediately, and, in March 2007, Easterling proposed.

    "For us, it was a no-brainer," he said.

    A storybook wedding

    Stackpole, who is now a sales associate at Lane Bryant and a student at Santa Fe Community College, and Easterling, who still acts but is also a screenplay writer, will be married at the Medieval Faire upon the chessboard at 5:30 p.m. on SundayJan. 27 in front of family, friends and the public.

    Though Stackpole wanted to be married at her grandmother's home, Easterling suggested the Faire because of its sentimental value.

    "What makes this event even more special is that the two met at the Faire and have been part of the Faire over the years," said Linda Piper, the Faire director.

    Easterling will perform in his seventh Living Chessboard show this year as Brother Tuck in Robin Hood.

    The ceremony will then be performed by one of the Thieves Guilde performers who is a notary public.

    Stackpole will be wearing a medieval-style gown, and her bridal party will be dressed as gypsies. Easterling will also be dressed in period garb, and his groomsmen will be clad in guard tunics.

    Both cannot wait for their enchanted wedding.

    "This type of fairy tale," Stackpole said, "only happens once in a lifetime."

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