The gates of the ‘village’ of New Brighton were closed tight, awaiting the arrival of the mayor before allowing entry to the peasants huddled outside. My daughter and I, having already survived the curious looks of our neighbors and the two hour car ride, watched as a gypsy girl shadowed a lord intent on swiping his purse. A few moments later we were greeted by the Fairy Queen who gave a blessing to ‘Her Royal Highness, Princess Morgan of the Fairies,’ and proceeded to blow fairy dust on my daughter’s face.
The mayor arrived then, and announced to all that the King himself was to be in New Brighton that very day. Not only that, but His Royal Highness, King Henry VIII was to be married! Trumpets blared as the king and his entourage arrived. Morgan and I obediently dropped to the ground, bowing our heads. The queen-to-be, Lady Jane, looked positively stunning, if a bit frightened. As well she should be concerned, for the last queen, she whose name we dare not speak in the king’s presence, was beheaded only ten days past.
Finally, the gates opened and we entered New Brighton. Quiet Waters Park, the site of the faire, is an excellent choice, seemingly to have been created to give the feel of an ancient English forest. As you can well imagine, that is a difficult feat for South Florida. Nevertheless, King Henry sat, in all his fur regalia, just inside the gates to greet his subjects. Morgan and I approached, and after some prompting, my nine-year-old daughter gave a suitable offer of joy to the king's upcoming marriage. She was thrilled when he meet her eyes and said, "Thank you, Milady. I do hope you enjoy your stay in New Brighton."
We wandered the shops for a bit, stepping to the side when the horse-drawn carts and rickshaws passed by. Even Morgan quickly learned to listen for the calls of the men pulling the carts and to move out of the way. Several times throughout the day the King would ride through the village in his royal carriage. The wandering characters all dropped face first into the dirt as he approached; Morgan and I however simply gave deep curtsies.
Though the vendors were polite to everyone, it became quickly apparent that we, being dressed in period garb, were treated with a bit more respect. The barmaid shouted "Hazzah," a little louder when I tipped and Morgan got two extra arrows in her quiver while at the archery booth. (Morgan was dressed as a princess while I went as a tavern wench.)
At one point in our wanderings, one of the 'cast' approached Morgan. "Now, bug," she said (Morgan had her fairy wings by then), "I think you got lost. You'll be wanting to go to the Enchanted Forest and visit with all the other bugs there." Getting directions, we quickly made our way to the Enchanted Forest, the home of the fairies. A secluded path through a heavily wooded area was littered with fairy regalia, a trap for humans, Sleeping Beauty's bed, and a fairy tea party.
Wandering past a pecan hawker, I had to laugh as he called out, "Care to try the King's nuts, Milady?" I can to find that you get used to being called milady very quickly, and you get used to the bawdy remarks even quicker. The gent presiding over the log fight cordially asked if I would "Care for a roll in the hay," much to my daughter's amusement.