By STACY MILLBERG
TRUMBULL TOWNSHIP - - Stepping into the "Village of Avaloch" is like stepping into a whole different place and time.
The vast shaded area is transformed into 13th century England where knights battle in an open jousting field for the favor of the queen. Juried crafts and artisans, continuous entertainment and a lot of fun for the family, lures thousands of people each summer to the former Girl Scout camp which now plays home to the Great Lakes Medieval Faire.
In its 14th year, the fair is situated on more than 100-acres of land. Although the fair does not consume all of it, the "village" is secluded from the sounds of traffic, making fair goers feel as though they have truly entered a whole other place and time, said Laura Lagasse, public relations and office manager.
The fair is owned by Larry Rickard and has been at its current location for the past 13 years. The fair made its debut in Madison-on-the-Lake, Lagasse said. Rickard has been in this sort of business for many years, conducting other Renaissance fairs, but is now at home with the GLMF, she said.
People from all walks of life attend the fair year after year.
"Some people come in costume, some come for the shopping," Lagasse said.
Vendors come from all over the country to display and sell their unique crafts. A lot of the vendors work a circuit of festivals around the country, while others just participate in the GLMF, she said. All of the vendors are required to maintain and beautify their space by planting flowers and making the area look appealing, she said.
Each day at 2 p.m. all of the actors and vendors parade through the "village." Most of the street actors are college students, studying acting or music, who volunteer for the six-weekend event. An open casting call is held every February. Talent scouts travel around the state to various colleges and universities to find the cast of the fair, Lagasse said.
Each year also opens a whole new story-line. This years story-line is the tale of Robin Hood. The storyline begins at the front gate and is carried out throughout the day, Lagasse said.
"Its really like a family here," she said. "Were all here to have fun and entertain."
National stage acts are also featured at the fair including the Washing Well Wenches and the Tortuga Twins, she said. All shows throughout the fair are rated G and PG so they are appropriate for the whole family. Lagasse said the staff tries to keep the fair family friendly and pet friendly. Pets are welcome on the grounds. Each weekend has a different theme. The entertainment usually compliments that weekends theme, she said.
"Its a fun place to work and a fun place to come to," she said.
The fair opens this weekend and will run through Aug. 13. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $16.95 for adults and children (ages 5 through 12) for $5.95. Children ages 4 and under are admitted free. Season passes are also available for $50 for adults and $25 for children. A weekend pass (one consecutive Saturday and Sunday) can be purchased for $25.
The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information visit the fairs Web site at www.medievalfaire.com.
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