Monday, September 24, 2012

The Feast

The sun was shining. There was a slight breeze in the air. Ok I'm not going to lie. It was cold. Truly the only place to find relief (and please pardon the unintentional pun there) was in the porta-potty. It was early enough in the day that it didn’t smell too terrible and the biting wind couldn’t get in. Yes, the wind was biting at times. I know…probably an over-used description but there you go. That’s what it was.

This was on the first day of fall and it felt like the last, right as the weather turns cold for good. This was only fitting because even though we’ve only gone to the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon twice, to me it, in and of itself, epitomizes fall. The Feast is an event celebrating the Native American fort in what would become a French trading post in New France in the mid-1700’s (you know…all that is fun for some history nerds). However I'm pretty certain that this event now primarily exists for local groups to make money by selling to unsuspecting patrons items they would never consider purchasing otherwise, but do so under the guise of good fun.

That being said, I submit for your review the list of foods my family purchased and ate. I'm not proud of the list. And actually taking the time to see it here in writing makes me a little disgusted:
  • Sausage on a stick
  • Homemade rootbeer (no carbonation and a little on the syrupy sweet side)
  • Porkchops (I do not generally eat porkchops because I'm a texture eater. The fat or even the prospect of biting off a fatty piece makes me a little gaggy just to consider it...but I did eat part of one today that my child didn't want to finish; we don't throw food away and I hadn’t considered bringing Ziploc bags for leftovers; note to self for next time.)
  • Smelt (I really should have known better. My husband had wandered off and when he returned to the group, I had not paid attention to the direction from which he had come. He handed me a greasy bag with what appeared to be fried potato wedges. Who doesn't love fried potato wedges? They are deep fried goodness, I don't care who you are. And as soon as I bit into it, it was abundantly clear…with the little fishy bones which were sticking out… this was no potato. I did not spit it out but I declined his offer of more.Y.U.C.K.O. )
  • Croquenolles (which more than made up for the smelt to which I had been subjected…it is tasty fried dough, coated with cinnamon and sugar. Better than a donut or fried biscuit or anything to which I could liken it. And it doesn’t even have chocolate in it, so you know it’s good if I’m raving about it and there’s no chocolate involved.)

There were many other possible sustenance options of which we did not take part; there was simply more than we could try. My husband is already salivating over the possibility of trying the bridies next year.

So not to make it seem like this was all about the food (but if you’ve met us you know it probably was a big draw for us), there was more to this event than the food vendors.
The costumes on some of the people in attendance are amazing. I will be honest…if I had the money and the time to travel around to different historical re-enactment events. (Yes, I’m a nerd, in case you didn’t know already.) And the fancier the outfit, the better. I also clearly have high-society taste, so very unlike my reality, right? 

Actually I don't care for the red's the lady behind her in pink and brown that I would prefer...just in case anyone's looking to purchase a little number for me.
This is our future, I'm sure of it...can't you just picture my husband in a  long curly brown wig?
There were also the people who purchased things they would, under other circumstances, not purchase. Ladies with regular clothes (to help you picture this…sneakers, jeans and a sweatshirt) wearing a hat like this…yeah, I’m fairly certain that in ANY other context they would not have done that. (If you are confused, please see my comment above regarding why this festival exists today.)

 There were also many other costumes indicative of the time period:


Native American
French Habitant (and they were singing in this picture); as an aside, don't you L.O.V.E. the lady in the blue cape who is sitting down? She looks BEYOND thrilled.
And what better to accompany a costume than the appropriate weaponry? This place is a boy’s little bit of heaven on earth…chock full of deadly items with which you can impale or maim yourself or those you love. Swords and knives at every turn. Sabers and various hunting knives. Bows and arrows. Yeah sure, some are of the plastic or wood variety but there were also the real-deal. And all within a young child’s reach. You can see what my children came home with (not the real-deal).

I will say that there is more to this event than simply purchasing items. There were many free demonstrations too, which really spoke to my history-loving self. And the PBA, despite their attempts to hide it, were interested in the multitude of educational opportunities innately provided at The Feast.
We watched various forms of open-fire cooking, blacksmiths, and a military  tactical demonstration.

Lace-making was interesting too…

And don’t let the PBA lie and say they weren’t watching…especially the younger one. He was all in there (I submit the photo as proof, Your Honor). True, he was trying to play with the pins to see how sharp they were, but he was engaged in the whole scene; don’t let him tell you otherwise.

The PBA even looked with some bit of interest at the booth selling books on the multiple facets of the time period. If it hadn’t cost almost $20, I’m positive one of them would have forked over the money for the book entitled “History of Undergarments”. Who am I kidding? I wanted to buy that book.
Participation activities for the children included using a two-man saw to cut through a downed tree, and hatchet throwing (yes, real hatchets…we did not participate in that this time; the PBA previously tried their hands at hatchet-throwing at Connor Prairie and did not feel compelled to do it again. Truth be told, I think it’s more difficult than it appears.) These were all very much OSHA-Approved activities, I’m certain.

They also played a game called graces (which I’m not 100% certain but I think this was more of a Victorian-era game and not mid-1700’s…someone help me out on that would you please?) In the version this week-end, the sticks were blunt on the end; in the past when they played it, the sticks were pointed. It didn’t seem to make a difference to them whether the ends were pointed or not, however they didn’t seem nearly as manly playing the game with the hoop all decorated with ribbon streaming down from it. I kept that comment in as long as I could; man, it feels good to finally let that out.
A couple more things to entice the young boys: a fire-eater and some jugglers. Sure, juggling doesn’t sound like all that engaging for some rough-and-tumble boys. But if you add in the elements of fire and knives and some really crazy wind gusts…now you’ve got a show that will put some behinds in the seats!

To further authenticate the ambiance, there were lots of campfires sprinkled about…some for cooking and some just for the fun of an open flame (it was cold that day too…did I mention that it was cold?). 

I will admit that 24 hours later, my eyes were still burning from the blowing smoke and everything we had with us smelled like we’ve been sitting IN a campfire. But it was good clean fun. Well, it was fun anyway…the rain the night before made things a little muddy at the beginning.

To recap: it was cold and a little muddy, we reeked of smoke, people were dressed in strange costumes (and sometimes not dressed nearly enough…some of those Native American costumes didn’t really provide as much coverage as my prudent self would have preferred), in one day we ate more sugar and grease than a person should eat in a week, and came home wiped out. I’m really selling this event, aren’t I? Or maybe I am just trying to keep all the fabulousness to myself…

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