Medieval Faire kicks off

Silly Sorceress Gail El-Ramey makes bubbles for a group of children at the Hoggetowne Medieval Fair on Saturday.

Published: Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 11:12 p.m.

The Alachua County Fairgrounds once again have been transformed into King Arthur's Court.

The 23rd annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire kicked off Saturday, as singers and dancers in medieval costumes performed in the streets, and medieval comedy, juggling, magic, acrobatics, and a living chess game all kept the crowd entertained.

"Each and every year the fair gets bigger and better and exceeds all our expectations," said Faire Director Linda Piper, who has organized the event for the past 15 years.

"It's a great time for everyone," Piper said. "Plan to arrive early and stay all day."

The fair will continue today, as well as three days next weekend, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, offering a schedule full of medieval activities and shows for all ages.

Also popular at the fair are the 165 artisan booths, which sell everything from jewelry and swords to medieval costumes. The food court offers giant turkey legs, ribs and blooming onions, and more modern fare such as pizza.

Last year's medieval faire drew 55,000 people, and attendance is expected to grow even more this year, said Piper, who added that more than half of those who attend are from outside Alachua County.

Amrita Jinorio traveled all the way from Miami to visit her family and attend the faire.

She said she likes watching all the shows and seeing the medieval goods at the merchant's booths.

"It's like taking a trip back in time," she said.

The faire offers a variety of events for children, including face painting, horse and elephant rides, and educational hands-on activities at the Children's Pavilion.

Jordan Wallace, a 7-year-old from Jacksonville, said she was looking forward to having her fortune read. Last year, the fortune teller told her she would have six children, she said.

Jordan's friend, Emma Cleghorn, also 7, said she couldn't wait "to see the princesses and other olden-time stuff."

Admission to the event is $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 5-17. Admission will be half price on Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

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