Last weekend, my family traveled back in time and spent a day in 13th Century England at The Great Lakes Medieval Faire & Marketplace. Though our family is on the younger side — we have two boys, John, 2, and Miles, 6 months — there was still plenty to do.
We arrived at the event, located near Rock Creek in Ashtabula County, a few minutes early in order to watch the festive opening ceremony. While my older son John didn’t quite follow the Old English dialogue, he enjoyed the theatrics and the loud “BOOM” of the cannon, which signaled the opening of the gates.
The path into the wooded shire of Avaloch was lined with characters in full costume — knights, jesters, pirates, maidens, etc. — welcoming visitors. Their interaction throughout the day added to the whole experience. My husband and I heard several clever remarks related to our elaborate “carriage” (the double stroller we used to push the boys around).
Dozens of food stands carried everything from lighter snacks to hearty fare — giant turkey leg, anyone? More than 100 artisans manned booths selling jewelry, costumes, glassware, wooden kids’ toys, leather goods and more. I had my eye on a pair of wooden swords and shields for the boys, but decided that could wait (at least until my son Miles can walk).
Great Lakes Medieval Faire had a wide variety of shows, including comedy, music, magic, hypnosis and stunts. My husband and I attended the faire several years ago and really enjoyed the performances. While John’s 2-year-old attention span didn’t allow us to see it all, my son did enjoy watching Johnny Phoenix crack his whip and walk on fire.
We spent most of our time in the children’s section, which included Faerie Forest, Pirate’s Cove, a butterfly tent, several inflatables, miniature golf, a playground, and many games of skill. John’s personal favorite was Mermaid Lagoon, where he sat on a rock at the edge of the pond and talked to Gem, a very friendly mermaid who is excellent with small children. We visited the lagoon twice; John requested a third visit after lunch, but we encouraged him to explore a different area of the faire.
After four hours of shows, food, browsing the artisan booths and stopping to play in several areas, it was time to go home. Before we even made it onto the highway to head home, our son John had already fallen asleep, clutching in his little hand the “magic stone” that Gem, the mermaid, had given him.
The Great Lakes Medieval Faire & Marketplace (medievalfaire.com) runs through Aug. 14, on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., so there’s still plenty of time left for your family to experience the fun.