The Medieval Fair of Norman of 2021 — a “Food-to-Go Spectacular and Online Extravaganza,” according to a press release — will combine an in-person array of food options at Reaves Park with performers live streaming on Facebook and vendors selling their wares on the Medieval Fair website April 9-11.
The Medieval Fair of Norman canceled its 2020 event due to COVID-19 just days before it was scheduled to take place following the university’s announcement that campus would be shut down, said Ann Marie Eckart, the Medieval Fair coordinator.
“Making that decision felt like someone was ripping my gut out,” Eckart said. “People work year-round to make the fair happen.”
After canceling the event, the Medieval Fair of Norman team began preparing for 2021. Over the past three months, the plans for this year’s fair became solidified, Eckart said.
“COVID has slowed down everything in the world,” Eckart said. “(Planning) went fairly smoothly, but there was plenty of debate about what was safe.”
Eventually, the Medieval Fair of Norman team came to the decision that all of the fair’s programming, other than food, would be provided in an online format.
“There is absolutely no reasonable way to do (food) online,” Eckart said.
While some regulations for the in-person food-vending are up in the air due to the recent change in social distancing regulations from six feet apart to three feet apart, masks will be required and provided at the event, Eckart said. Marks will also be drawn on the ground to ensure social distancing can occur in the food lines.
“Be prepared to be patient,” Eckart said. “Lines will be long, but it’s to keep everyone safe.”
As for the online portion of the fair, videos from vendors displaying their skills and products will be posted to the Medieval Fair website. Vendors range from classic leather workers to designers of stuffed plague rats. Live performances from artists all over the country will be streamed at varying times on the Medieval Fair Facebook page as well.
“These performers usually travel hundreds of miles to get here,” Eckart said. “This year, they don’t have to. It’s awesome.”
Eckart said there will also be links on the website to educational pages about the concept of the Medieval Fair and medieval history.
“There may even be a sneak peak on Thursday, so keep an eye out for that,” Eckart said.
While the event will feature many of the same performers and vendors from previous years, there are still plenty of new things to be excited about, Eckart said.
“Hopefully next year, we can keep live streaming some portions of the fair,” Eckart said. “There are people who’ve had to move away from Norman for various reasons, but with live streaming they’ll still have access. This is their definition of community.”
The fair, which has been in Norman since the 1970s, will ideally bring a sense of community to the campus again, Eckart explained.
“I’m most looking forward to that little spark of hope that we’re almost back to normal,” Eckart said.
The fair will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 9-10 and 12 - 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 11 at Reaves Park and online.
This story was corrected at 3:46 p.m. to reflect the correct date of the Medieval Fair of Norman.