Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 | 1:55 a.m.
Knights, fairies and guilds are gathering in Sunset Park this weekend for the 16th annual Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival.
Participant Sherrie Gibbons said attending the festival is like walking into another world. She said she first became interested in the Renaissance period through her daughter.
"It’s a chance to get away from mundane life, especially with the economy right now," Gibbons said.
Sandra Navarro has a personal tie with the festival. She said she has been bringing her son and daughter to the event for six years.
Her daughter, Melissa, said the festival gives her an excuse to dress up like a pirate. She said she is intrigued by the pirate lifestyle and has a crossbones tattoo on her shoulder.
While the festival offers a chance for locals to show off their Renaissance wardrobes, Scott Fitzpatrick said he enjoys the live steel competition, including heavy armor on Saturday and fencing on Sunday. He said this is the 11th year the festival has offered the competition.
"Anyone can participate as long as they follow our safety guidelines," Fitzpatrick said.
Las Vegas middle schools are joining in on the fun, too. Candy Rutledge, senior program administrator for Clark County Parks and Recreation, said the festival allows schools to bring their students in for free.
Las Vegas Day School teacher Jeff Segel said the school brought sixth-graders to the festival to experience the history they're learning in the classroom.
"Anything you study comes to life more when you do things like this," Segel said. "It’s a lot of fun for them. They get to see the artifacts and it’s a good way for them to learn."
Sixth-grader Romina Montti, 11, said she would rather attend the festival than read her textbook.
"It reinforces what they are teaching us in school," Montti said.
Some children were on school field trips, but others participated in the festival because of their passion for the time period.
Holly Long, 8, said she enjoys working at Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival. She works at her family’s tent, Dragon Bubbles, and said she chose to be a flower fairy this year.
"My parents got me into this," she said. "It’s an amazing experience."
Besides offering bubble vials, jewels and meat pies, the festival also features various educational programs like the Pirates Parrot show, which focuses on parrots from across the world.
Rutledge said the parrot show is especially popular among children.
"He gets all the kids together and teaches them about the birds," Rutledge said. "He lets the birds fly around and land on kids’ shoulders."
Birdman Joseph Krathwohl was at the festival Friday with his companion and bateleur eagle Sheba. Krathwohl said he has had Sheba for more than 26 years and has learned bateleur eagle territorial calls from her.
"I help to teach people about the use of birds for prey – not only in the Renaissance period but for the last 7,000 years of our history," Krathwohl said. "If you could ride up and have several falcons and one big golden eagle on your arm, then everyone who saw you arrive knew you were a powerful man, not woman. Women were not allowed to touch our birds."
The festival will also have entertainment by comedians, sword swallowers and fire breathers. Mary Evanoff will perform in the "Merrie May Show" by juggling and pole walking, while Mike Foster will perform his spin on the movie and play "Sweeney Todd."
Live music will also be provided by The Wild Celts, The Prodigals and Swagger.
"It’s all about our history, and world history is our history," said Las Vegas resident Jim Hartung. "If we don’t know it, we’re doomed to repeat it."