However, on Saturday, some of us drove to Frankfort, KY for the third annual Days of Knights, "a historically accurate re-creation of several time periods from the era known as the Middle Ages." I am all over that medieval stuff!
After mistakenly putting the park's main address into the GPS instead of reading where the event was actually located, we finally found our way there (which included a shuttle bus from the attendee parking area to the event site).
Folks, this was an incredible event, the more I think about it. The biggest thing:
IT WAS FREE
And these people weren't just Joe Shmoe from downtown Frankfort. They came from all over the place: Chicago, Maryland, Cincinnati, etc. The attention to detail and historical accuracy was just stunning. Really and truly stunning.
Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect with it being a free event. For one, it is nothing like the Ohio Renaissance Fair. That event, which is fine for what it is, really doesn't allow for a lot of sincere interaction between attendees and the re-enactors. DOK, though, is small enough and filled with folks who are passionate about thier particular area of interest.
Our first encounter as we entered the event area was this fight between two armored knights. You can see a similar video from the first day when they presented to school students.The way the fight was conducted, each knight would get a point for a hits to certain areas.
We then moved on to the encampment timeline. My only complaint with the timeline is that I wished there had been someone to direct us to "start here with the Vikings" and proceed counter-clockwise. Also, since the tents in this area were fairly close together, I felt like I was tramping through people's campsites. And maybe that was the intent, in order to engage the attendees. I don't know. It took me a little while to warm up to the whole experience. We started somewhere in the middle, around the end of the high middle ages (14th century-ish?), and watched some of the science guys (who I think, were also some sort of religious guys in their personae??? They had some interesting hair going on), saw how a bone would be reset, and watched a fellow set off a mini cannon/gun-type thingamajig.
After meandering around a bit more, we watched these Viking dudes in a mock fight with swords, axes, and...um...er...spears? Anyway, it was a kind of cool to see them getting into it and I made some remark about how the LARPers on Julia's campus are in training for just such an event.
It was in this area that we ran into a Norman guy who was eager to have the kids try on some helmets and mess around with some of the gear.
Über cool. You don't get that treatment at the Renfest (at least, not that big un-FREE up north). The kind gentleman even persuaded Connor to give a go at the straw-filled dummy with the spear and the sword.
After warming to the idea of interacting with the re-enactors, we got a little more interested in finding some hands-on activities for the girls. (The brunette here is not one of mine, in case you were wondering.)
Here Julia is helping to make a cord the Viking way. Four strings are suspended and looped around weights below. The two switched off--dark to dark, light to light--until they made a patterned cord which the kid on the left got to keep when it was done.
A free memento. How cool is that?
We poked around and meandered some more, witnessed a wedding ceremony complete with Knights Templar in attendance (still kicking myself that I didn't get photos of them), talked to a knight who encouraged us to look around his tent and touch things, and finally made our way up to the Irish folks (who I also did not photograph, doh!). You can see what they looked like, here. The fellow on the right was in the midst of carving an Irish jack-o-lantern out of a turnip. Yep...that is actually the traditional way to do it, since the Irish didn't have pumpkins!
Still, Connor got to try on some more armor...I think this might have belonged to some Spanish guys. We even had the honor of a good old fashioned photo-bomb (at the bomber's request). That totally cracked me up. ("Wait, take another one...take another one.")
All in all, it was well worth the two-hour drive and I am totally looking forward to repeating the experience again next year.
If you're considering doing a Med/Ren educational thing for you or your kids, this event will not disappoint. Our experience with the HUGE Renaissance fair when we went several years ago was kind of disappointing. It was seriously crowded (not good when you have young ones in tow) and we spent a good deal of time waiting for the joust and seeing Queen Elizabeth. The high point was the performance of "Beowulf" in the mud pit (that was memorable...and Beowulf is definitely not Renaissance lit!). Days of Knights is family-friendly (no bawdy performances) with lots of hands-on, interactive education. They really emphasize the importance of historical accuracy. You won't see pirates, wizards, or hobbits/elves/dwarves/(insert your favorite Tolkein character here).
Do yourself a favor next year and check it out!
My other medieval-ish postings:
- Medieval Music, Part 1
- Medieval Music, Part 2
- Medieval Architecture Field Trips (Cincinnati area)
- Multi-Level Learning, Medieval History (through Elizabeth I of England)