by Paul Maraschiello


For years, I worked at some of the biggest renaissance festivals in the country, so I was delighted when I found out that Killington was hosting a renaissance festival. The event spanned an entire weekend and started with a dinner fit for a King (or in this case Queen) at the Moondance Grille on Friday night. The first course was Semillon Butternut Bisque with Crème Fraiche, followed by the second course of Garden Greens with blueberries, topped with Merlot Chive Vinaigrette. There was a choice of three entrees: Entrecote of Beef topped with Tarragon Chasseur Sauce with Parsnip Potatoes, Chaucer Lamb Stew in a crisp pastry dish, or Fennel Rubbed Grilled Trout topped with Baby Corn Chutney for desert, there was Blueberry tart in a tasty sweet dough tart shell.

The actual fair took place Saturday and Sunday at Pico Peak and although it was small, it has the potential of being a really fun event. The cast of singers, actors and musicians were very entertaining. They had a well planned schedule of events and a theme that pitted Queen Mary against her half-sister Elizabeth. The visitors could follow the festivities easily and were exposed to some really fine entertainment. Morris dancers performed to the wave of handkerchiefs and the tinkle of bells. A group of madrigal singers put on a number of excellent performances and the jester was very funny. I enjoyed the performances of all the cast and even did a few songs and "bits" in the pub myself. I came as Sir Neville Ferguson, a character I had perfected at performances in the Maryland and Atlanta Renaissance Festivals. Once a ham, always a ham.

The food was highlighted by some EXCELLENT turkey legs that were grilled to perfection over a charcoal fire and only cost $3.00. There was even some beer brewed by Long Trail, especially for the occasion. There were crafts and period clothing available to tempt you wallet at this mediaeval event. Here is a lovely fairy (Delora Abrams) who was selling her artwork.

Guests were given a chance to hone their fencing skills and could go for a carriage ride behind a dappled gray steed. They saw some good theater performed by a group of local children. The juggler juggled and one actor held the audience spell-bound with a one-man theatrical show.

A number of the visitors were smart enough to come in costume (the only way to do a Renaissance Festival). These folks received a discount on their tickets and made the fantasy seem more real. A long skirt and some imagination is all a gal needs to transform herself into a high-born lady. A pair of long johns can be combined with a few other items that can turn a NYC weekender into one of Robin Hood's gang. Almost everyone has a few things in their closet that can be adapted to a costume. I have been known to visit the Goodwill and other thrift shops with great results. So, for the future, get dressed up, when you visit a renaissance festival, it is guaranteed to enhance your fun and add to the allusion of a trip back in time.

There was archery available where you could improve your skill with a bow. The falconry demonstration gave the crowd a few laughs when one of the birds refused to come down from the tree. The pony ride was a big hit with some of the small-fry and the pub area was well attended. Pres Smith (the man who started Killington) was there with a lovely lady friend. I am glad to see that he is still in the area from time to time, even though he no longer runs Killington.

In addition to the festivities that were going on at Pico, there were related intellectual events going on at the Sherburne Memorial Library that included: "A Question of Will" where Author Lynn Kozitski discusses her book for young adults; "Shakespeare`s Allegory and Four Levels of Meaning in the Plays" M.B. Sexton Oberlin College of Music; "Shakespeare and the Geneva Bible" presented by Dr. Roger Stritmatter of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; "Shakespeare`s Sonnets" where author Hank Whittemore discussed various aspects of Shakespeare.

All the cast members I met at the renaissance festival were talented and dedicated performers who were able to do a lot with very little. From the young girls who danced around the Maypole to the tune of the lute and recorder to the thespians who played the Queen and French spy, all was very well done. Locals were combined with "imported" talent to produce a very credible show. There were men in kilts and wenches.

On Saturday evening, "Comedie of Errors" was presented by New Hampshire Shakespeare Festival at the Ramshead Lodge.

As this becomes an established event, it can only get better. As the locals catch on to the fun and those weekenders begin putting the Killington Renaissance Festival on their calendar of events, the quality of the show will surely improve. When the word gets out the ski-house crowd, the number of revilers will increase. I predict that men will be strapping on their swords and ladies will be donning their flowing gowns to cavort at the base of Pico Peak in coming years. I don't know, there is just something about swords and cleavage that appeals to me. The bawdy era of the renaissance should have a lot to offer both young and old and I look forward to seeing the Killington Renaissance Festival grow with the years.