Kings, queens, knights, minstrels and peasants will arrive in Norman March 27 to 29.
The 39th Annual Medieval Fair of Norman returns to Reaves Park for three days from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The fair is free, and parking at Lloyd Noble Center costs $5.
Ann Marie Eckart, fair coordinator, said over 350,000 people are expected to visit the fair. Among these visitors are those who Eckart called “playtrons,” people who dress in costumes resembling medieval clothes.
Amanda Stinson, a computer science student at Northern Oklahoma College, is one of these visitors. Stinson, along with her husband and their 7-year-old daughter, has been attending medieval fairs since 2007 and dresses up every time.
Stinson said she and her daughter wear what is considered “country wear,” which is less ornate than royalty clothing and has a loose fit, although Stinson said she occasionally wears a corset. She said her husband typically wears kilts but also has an outfit resembling those of the French Renaissance.
However, Stinson said dressing up is “absolutely not” necessary.
“You don’t have to feel obligated at all,” Stinson said.
In addition to the Norman fair, Stinson has gone to fairs in Las Vegas, Washington, California, and Muskogee, Oklahoma and said there is a community in medieval fairs.
“It’s almost like you don’t feel like people are judging you there because we’re all just a little bit crazy,” she said.
Stinson recommended that visitors try a turkey leg and go to some of the shows the fair puts on.
“They’re all great and so much fun,” Stinson said of the shows.
Eckart said two of the most popular events are the joust and the human combat chess match. The joust is done by a professional troupe from Florida and is a full-contact competition between two horsemen trying to knock his opponent off his horse.
The human combat chess match is played similar to a regular game of chess, but people stand in place of pieces and the kings call out moves. When a person tries to take a square over, however, he must fight for the square.
“They have a whole storyline behind it,” Eckart said of the chess match. “It’s very entertaining.”
Eckart said the fair also features several educational opportunities. For example, The University of Central Oklahoma will have a display about Vikings in America, St. Gregory’s University will offer the history of brass rubbings, the Arthurian Order of Avalon will have an educational tent about games and past times of the middle ages and the Society for Creative Anachronism will have an arts and sciences tent.
“The amazing thing is when you start learning about this time period, you discover this is where it all began,” Eckart said. “It’s fascinating to kind of see where our universities, where our government [and] where our structure of society started.”
Overall, Eckart said between live music, shopping, shows, crafts, activities and more, there is “a little bit of something for everyone.”
“There are so many overwhelming sights and sounds and things to try,” Eckart said.
A full schedule of events is available on the fair’s website.
Eckart said there is no smoking or alcohol allowed in Reaves Park, and although pets are allowed, they are not encouraged because of the large crowds.