Medieval Times at FCCJ Fair Offers Look at Middle Ages

By Strickland, Sandy | The Florida Times Union, April 1, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Medieval Times at FCCJ Fair Offers Look at Middle Ages


Strickland, Sandy, The Florida Times Union


Need a tooth pulled? Been bled lately? How about a leech?

Glenda Miller was offering her services in the courtyard at Florida Community College at Jacksonville's Kent Campus.

Be advised, though, that painkillers were an unknown commodity in the Middle Ages. A drum was beaten, however, to muffle the screams of dental patients.

On Wednesday, FCCJ stepped back hundreds of years to the days when knighthood was in flower.

With the aid of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an educational research and re-enactment organization, the Roosevelt Boulevard campus was transformed into a medieval fair. Banners, depicting a knight on horseback, a heraldic coat of arms and a troubadour, hung from the balconies.

The enticing smells of roasted chicken wings and meat pies -- free while they lasted -- attracted a steady stream of customers.

It was a day of continuous entertainment, a chance to see jousters in action, fencing demonstrations, belly dancers, medieval games, displays of medieval clothing and heraldry, basket weavers, costumed knights and maids, an outdoor performance of the morality play Everyman and readings from Chaucer's classic Canterbury Tales.

"It's interesting. I've never had a chance to see something like this before," said Essa Farhat, a sophomore. "When you see everyone dressed up, it brings history alive."

And that was part of the reason for what will become an annual event at the Kent Campus. Jenny Ohayon, professor of humanities and the fair's organizer, conceived it as a way for students to relate to the long-ago Middle Ages.

"I'm trying to get my students to be as in love with it as I am," she said. "It's something that can be enjoyed by the general public as well, something both educational and fun."

In preparation, some of the students and teachers even made costumes, the basic garb being T-shaped tunics made from a single piece of cloth and tied with a belt.

Raymond Thorn, a sophomore majoring in history, was one student who opted to dress for the occasion: a cream-colored tunic trimmed in blue.

"I like this. I like history and medieval times," he said, munching on a chicken wing. "I'm like a kid in a candy store. I was watching those knights fight and thinking this is what it must have been like a thousand years ago."

Thorn also attended presentations on Gothic architecture and medieval math, part of a series of half-hour talks given by FCCJ professors and society members. Other subjects included medieval life, heraldry, fashion, accounting techniques, education and cosmology.

Lynn Conradt-Eberlin, who has been with the society for a year, was giving instruction in the art of Middle Eastern dancing. Dressed in a multicolored striped tunic tied with purple and green sashes and shoulder-length gold earrings that jangled when she moved, she was kept busy answering questions on the history and purpose of the dance.

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