Fairies, knights, artisans abound at faire

A dancer performs at the 26th Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 9:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 9:19 p.m.

Fairies aren't necessarily medieval, though they could be since fairies exist only in the mind of the beholder anyway.


Fair continues Sunday

What: The 26th annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, featuring jousting by armored knights, live performances, food court, arts and crafts from more than 150 artisans
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday and Feb. 4-5, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Feb. 3.
Where: Alachua County Fairgrounds, 2900 NE 39th Ave.
Tickets: $14, $7 for ages 5-17, free for ages 4 and younger; tickets half-Cost on Feb. 3.

But fairies have become so entwined with renaissance fairs that a fair number of people crowding the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville Saturday sprouted pixie wings.

"It's the fantasy side of it. Fairies are real, as long as you believe in them," said Gainesville's Lisa Gafney. "The whole fair is a fantasy. Nothing is 100 percent. It's the fantasy world, and people take the occasion of a renaissance festival or medieval festival to be something they are not in the everyday world."

By day, Gafney and her friends Autumn Phillips, of Ocala, and Holly Adams, of Gainesville, work in a grocery store, a coffee shop and an insurance office.

But every year, at Hoggetowne Faire time, they don long dresses with string-laced bodices and fairy wings on their backs. They are all moms, and fairy costumes are big with their kids.

The Hoggetowne Faire, like other renaissance festivals throughout the country, draw two groups of people.

One group gets in the spirit of the times by dressing as medieval men and women, pirates, witches and wizards and other creatures of bygone times.

The other is the modern-dressed crowd, who come for the fun of jousts and other contests, the vendors selling everything from ye olde funnel cakes to swords and stones, and the entertainment.

Vendors typically dress up, too, and many of them got their start by attending renaissance fairs. Among them is Brian Wolf of Siege the Day.

Wolf makes wooden mini-catapults — a weapon from medieval times.

But rather than hurling boulders, or size-appropriate pebbles in this case, Wolf uses miniature marshmallows as ammo.

"I do this year ‘round. I travel with my woodshop and sell them on weekends," Wolf said as he shot marshmallows at passersby. "They are lot of fun. They are great for office warfare, which a lot of grownups love. They are great for raising morale."

They were certainly great to Rosemary Hall, of Homosassa, who said her grandkids would love the catapults.

"These are a riot," Hall said while firing off marshmallows. "These are clever."

Wooden swords were the weapons of interest to Alonzo Johnson, who hefted several finely crafted ones from the rack of one vendor.

Johnson and his wife, Whitney, who is set to have their first baby next week, frequently come to the fair.

She enjoys looking at the costumes and eating fair food, while he is smitten by the swords.

"I used to collect swords — real swords," he said. "I've never had a wooden sword before, but these are the kind that I would want to have."

The fair is held at the Alachua County Fairgrounds near the airport on Northeast 39th Avenue, and continues today and next weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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