It turned out to be much like a Renaissance Fair you'd find in the States, just smaller and with a lot less stuff for sale. There were shows, one for kids and the rest with higher (or lower, depending on your definition) comedy for the adults. We saw a sword eater and a fire breather. There was a wandering town fool and people dressed to represent all of the major (and some minor) players in the Robin Hood story.
The first show we saw asked for children volunteers. The adults running the show would wisper stage direction and their lines to the kids and the kids did the show. It sounds clunky, but it was quite cute. Isaac and Elie were so excited about the potential of participating that they raised their hands with vigor everytime they asked for volunteers.
Isaac got picked to be the Black Knight.
He had a fantastic time. He got to pretend he was riding a horse and then have a (very safe) sword fight.
When that show was over, we wandered into the main part of the festival. We sat down right as another show was starting. It was a combo juggling/drumming/humor show. And Isaac got picked again to go up on stage. This time he was just supposed to search around, in the bottom of a very large burlap sack, for some sort of "fierce" animal. He wasn't going to be fooled into getting scooped up into the sack and so he cautiously reached in. It was quite funny to see the showman thwarted by Isaac, though I think it may have ruined some of the jokes.
Here he is cautiously reaching in.
And here the guy finally convinced him to get in the bag, but he was doing it on his own terms!
We wandered around the forest for a while and down to the main event area. There is an amazingly large oak tree in a clearing. The oak is said to have been *the* tree that Robin Hood and his gang would meet under. (The tree is massive, but it is a type of oak that tears itself apart the larger it grows. In Sherwood, they have prevented this self destruction by rigging the tree with loads of metal supports and guide wires. It took a bit of the mystique out of it.) Of course, all these stories are nice, but the history turns out to be much more interesting. It seems that all of the characters from the story did actually exist, just never within the same time span or location. Up here in Yorkshire, there was a man who shows up in historical court papers as "Robin Hood". He was in trbouble for stealing for the poor. The first record of his name is in the 1300's!!
We sat down and watched another couple of shows. One was about the history of Robin Hood and how he was an original eco-warrior as well as campainging for social justice. Hmph. It was a little too heavy for something where bawdy was the rule of the day. The next show was much lighter fair. We laughed a ton and Talia (and her friend we were with) got picked to be volunteers at that show! They were supposed to act scared, while the two funny-men acted like they were going to brain them with rubber clubs. I'm not sure that they *really* understood what was going on, which made it slightly funnier.
Here they are, doing their part to look scared. The guy next to Talia is holding a chocolate bar that they used to bribe the girls with. It was all quite funny.
The next part of the show involved fools on stilts (quite literally), silly fake tricks and fire eating. Leila did NOT like it and we had to get up and leave. Talia and Isaac also thought it was very, very frightening. Fire is something that the safety officers in our house find extremely scary. So it was REALLY freaking them out that someone was PUTTING FIRE IN THEIR OWN MOUTH!!! At the end of the show, Isaac was sort of upset and so I took him to the fire eater and we asked to see his mouth. I thought that if Isaac could see that the mouth of the fire eater looked just the same as any one elses, it might help him to process. The guy was really nice and dramatically stuck out his tounge, buggy eyed, with his mouth wide open. I think it helped Isaac, but he was still a little goggly eyed about the whole thing.
We watched a bit of the archery competition (pay 2 pounds to get your name entered in the drawing to compete) and then walked back to the cars with our friends. Traffic was horrendous and so we hung out and had some picnic dinner, played frisbee (or skimmer as it is called here) and some footie. Maybe Robin Hood and his Merry Men are just a myth, but it was fun to visit anyway.