On April 23, 1977, the anniversary month of Shakespeare's birthday in 1564, the founders of the Medieval Fair, a group of graduate students, created a Renaissance experience on the South Oval of the University of Oklahoma (OU) campus. With pageant booths and fights in the Passion Pit, this first fair proved to be a success and became an annual Norman event. The goal of the nonprofit event is not only to offer fun and entertainment but to create interest in humanities and in the Middle Ages. Art and crafts exhibits with examples of beadwork, weaving, painting, and woodwork are displayed.
In 1979 the OU students who had begun the fair graduated. The university and a dedicated volunteer board took over. The fair expanded in 1980, moving to the Brandt Duck Pond and eventually encompassing both sides of the reservoir. By the seventh year the Medieval Fair had become a two-day event. King Arthur and his Knights, Lady Mermaid, Simpkin the Fool, and other favorites continued to delight audiences. In 1994 the "Medfair" grew to three-days, with public schools invited to enjoy "living history." One hundred and fifty thousand visitors came to more than two hundred food and vendor booths in 2001, the event's twenty-fifth year.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Fair's History," Vertical File, College of Continuing Education, University of Oklahoma, Norman. Norman (Oklahoma) Transcript, 22 April 1977.
Richenda Davis Bates
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