Merchants, minstrels and Shakespeare Renaissance Fair teaches fun lessons

WINFIELD — WINFIELD -- Screaming in protest, the young lady was dragged to the stocks proclaiming her innocence.

"I'm a good girl," she yelled, in a broad British accent. "I haven't done anything!"


Finally, after she was tortured with a snake and jeered by the crowd, the king stepped up to demand her release.

"You better let me go!" she shrieked. "I'm your mistress!"


That was the atmosphere at South Carroll High's fourth annual Renaissance Fair on Thursday.

Merchants hawked their wares, minstrels sang in the streets and actors performed the latest of "Willie" Shakespeare's plays, giving visitors a chance to experience an Elizabethan fair.

And the chance to have fun while earning a grade.

"It looks like what we learned in class," said Angie Markle of Westminster High. The senior, who taught juggling dressed as a court jester, said she and her classmates will be graded on a paper comparing the festival with what they had studied.

Extra credit was given for costumes, interacting with others and staying in character.

Meanwhile, Shane Flickinger and John May, juniors at Francis Scott Key High, staged a duel to the death in the streets. May said he learned the art from a friend of his aunt's and taught Flickinger so he could have a partner.

"I like this, it's pretty neat," May said, adding that he had attended Renaissance fairs at Northwest Middle and in Pennsylvania. "It's smaller than those, but I like it. It's pretty good for basically having students put it on."

The project, a brainchild of SCHS British literature teachers Patricia King and Terry Hoffman, has grown each year from its inception in 1988. This year, 400 students from all five county high schools and Winfield Elementary demonstrated what they had learned in their English classes about the Renaissance.


"This is really an interdisciplinary thing," said King, who posed as Queen Elizabeth for the day. "Fashion Club, carpentry, drafting, science, astronomy, music -- every part of the school comes into this thing. As far as I know, there's nothing like it in the state."

The fair also helps the county move toward the state goals of performance-based studies, where students are able to demonstrate what they learned when they complete a class, said SCHS principal David Booz.

"This is good integration be tween classwork and special projects," he said. "From the music to the costumes to the food to playing a jailer, you've got to learn something before you can do these things."

Barry Gelsinger, county supervisor of English and foreign languages, agreed.

"We're going to get more of this type of thing," he said. "Hopefully, each high school would develop something unique to their own school."

In spite of all the educational goals, the students were there to have a good time.


"I didn't expect to have as much fun at a 'required' field trip," said WHS senior Bill Madonna, who dressed as a cow with his friend Jon Bird.

"People are going all-out, getting on stage and making fools of themselves and having a good time."