Medieval Empire

Everyone needs to escape from the daily grind, and pretending to be a brave knight in shining armor or a beautiful princess frocked in a flowing, nearly transparent gown is just as valid a pastime as volunteering for Big Brothers/Big Sisters or holding up a bar stool in a neighborhood dive. However, we can't help but think the truth about the medieval era is less than shining and beautiful. Outside the castle walls there existed a less fanciful reality where a person could hardly expect to live past 30 or scrounge up more to eat than peat moss and mud cakes. For every romantic tale of castles and forest glades, there is an equally harrowing tale of chastity belts, indentured servitude and dungeons of torture. But, come to think of it, even that passes as romantic fantasy to certain segments of the modern population.

Still, North Texas caters to the wannabe Sir Gawains and Guineveres of the world twice a year with Waxahachie's spring-time Scarborough Faire and Past Time Productions' annual fall festival, the Hawkwood Medieval Fantasy Faire. This second fair is not strictly Eurocentric. In fact, medieval cultures from all around the world are represented, including Africa, Persia and Asia.

Hawkwood features plenty of hand-carved doodads, jewelry and head-shop specialties such as incense and candles. And we can't think of a place (other than Scarborough) to find a wider selection of weaponry and chain mail. There are also 11 stages featuring music, juggling, fire breathing, jesterlike maneuvers, readings of Shakespeare, staged sword fights, magic performers, dancing and, of course, food and three pubs with lots o' ale.

Supposedly set at the edge of "the mythical realm of the Fey," Hawkwood is, in reality, across the highway from the Texas Motor Speedway. Hark! Is that the dread dragon alighting by the enchanted brook that through the forest we hear? Sorry, it's just the revving of NASCAR engines at time trials.

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Mark Hughes