The Hammond Louisiana Renaissance Festival
This is Sir Alex of Kingdom. Below is the account of our visit to the Renaissance Festival in Hammond, Louisiana in November 2000, when he was five years old. Unfortunately, we had only a video camera with us, so there were no pictures taken at the festival. We do have lots of pictures of Sir Alex in his armor, though, and the story of how we made it. You can see that here: Maille Armor Pictures
The day started with what we thought would be a twelve mile drive from Metairie. It turned out to be about thirty miles of swamp and two lakes down the road. Cool thing was almost the whole drive was on a bridge over the swamp. Alex couldn't get enough of it. He asked questions about the trees and plants, the bridge, the water, the alligators, and most of all, the swamp monster we had seen at the zoo. Although we tried to convince him there was no such thing, he wouldn't have it. What's a swamp without a monster? There has to be one, he said.
So we finally get there and after all the hard work that went into making him a terrific knight's costume, he decides he doesn't want to put it on. None of it. He doesn't even want to carry the sword. But when we were asked upon entrance if we would like to rent costumes and have our picture taken, he said, "Oh, I want to do that!"
The whole place was set up like an old marketplace, with costumed vendors selling everything you could think of from that period. We go down an S-shaped gravel road filled with shops and finally come to a puppet show about dancing with death. Alex loved it. Then we went to see the duelists and what does Alex want to do? Put on his costume!
We didn't realize how far it was back to the parking area, but it must have been at least a mile round trip because it took us fifteen minutes to get back to the truck. Coming back in his costume was slow. Everyone wanted to talk with us about it and a few wanted to take pictures. Even the King stopped to talk. Alex had to assure him he knew what his number one duty was--to protect the ladies.
By the time we got back to the duelists, they had completed three shows and were finished. One of them, Randy, came over to us and complimented us on the costume. He told me he was a high school history teacher in Los Angeles and said Alex would have been a Hospitaler. He said the tabard changed to red with a white cross in the later period. Alex's "tabard", which I have been calling a cloak, is white with a red cross. He took Alex up on the stage and had a duel with him.
Right after that, Alex took the costume off and his dad walked it back to the truck. We watched some musicians, then there was an elephant ride and then pouring down rain! We got soaked. Alex said he told us to bring an umbrella, and that he had. That morning I said there was a 20% chance of rain, and he had advised us to bring it. Everyone was ducking in sheds, trying to stay dry, but we went to the archery booth and Alex and his dad shot arrows in the rain! Later, Alex came off a wild boar ride and slid in the mud. I was soooo glad he had taken his costume off! He was covered all the way up his back.
Then there was the joust! Alex was so excited to see these knights on horseback performing for the King and his court. Unfortunately, my video camera battery died at just that point, so I didn't catch it on film.
And then it was over, except for that wonderful ride back across the swamp. It was a great adventure and I recommend that everyone experience one of these festivals for themselves. The people were all so nice and were so authentic looking and sounding. We had a really, really good time and learned a lot about the customs of the period.