Dear Lords and Ladies, you have been cordially invited to take a step out of the 21st century and into the 21st year of The Great Lakes Medieval Faire to help celebrate the 21st birthday of his young majesty Prince Philip!
Though it may be the prince’s birthday, there are plenty of treats for the guests who enter the gates of Avaloch, the 13th century village that just happens to be located just off Rt. 534 in Geneva.
The Faire is open weekends in July and August each year and presents varying themes throughout the season. This year’s themes are: Heroes and Villains, Rogues and Knights (July 6th -7th); Alter Ego Tyme Travel Experience (July 13th -14th); A Roman Holiday (July 20th -21st); Pirate Invasion (July 27th – 28th); and Celtic Celebration (August 3rd – 4th). The last weekend of the 2013 season is the Barbarian Return on August 10th and 11th so dig out your Viking hats and fur for the farewell festivities!
One-day tickets for adults are $22 at the gate, children are $6. Save a few dollars with a weekend pass which is good for both Saturday and Sunday. Still not enough time to see all the entertainment, taste all the food and hunt for that perfect shiny souvenir at the wealth of marketplace shops? Next year consider a season pass for $50 and you’ll be singing the Twelve Days of GLMF!
When you go, gates open at 11am but come a bit early to catch a glimpse of the prince as the royal family welcomes their guests into the shaded shire during opening ceremonies at 10:45. Then choose any one of the paths winding throughout the forest that will bring you past beautiful damsels, dashing swordsmen, intriguing townspeople and impish fairies. Of course no fairy tale would be complete without the mischievous villain and his minions (or in this case, HER minions) so keep a look out for the Evil Queen who will do her best to disrupt the happy occasion.
With several stages hosting all manner of performers from magicians, jugglers, firewalkers, comedians and musicians, there are plenty of opportunities to distract festival-goers from the malicious antics of those out to spoil the fun of the day! Take pleasure in discovering a new experience or make a point of visiting a favorite entertainer who helps make your trip to Avaloch feel as if you were actually “coming home.” The Washing Well Wenches, Johnny Phoenix, Silent Lion and the live-action chess match are certainly faire staples, as is Danny Lord, a silent comedic magician, who has spent forty years captivating audiences without uttering a word. Each weekend’s theme brought a rotation of differing experiences so no encounter was like another! In honor of the Celtic Celebration, spectators watched the Highland Games and tapped their feet along with the high-steppers of the Eternity Irish Step Dancers. After a two-year hiatus touring other kingdoms, Faire favorite The Dueling Fools returned this season for a very special weekend and proved that the feud between Rocco and George still burns as brightly as ever. If you somehow missed these two not-to-be-missed silly swordsmen, look them up online at We hear their agent time travels to the current century and keeps a calendar of upcoming performances handy. And if you have another chance to see them somewhere, take it. Seriously. (Actually, there’s nothing serious about these bantering comedians except their ability to make an audience laugh, and their talent for wielding some pretty, shiny, very sharp and pointy objects.)
More tips (not the sharp and pointy kind) for when you go:
Parking is free in the field by the main castle gates.
The shire is handicapped accessible – the gravel or dirt paths through the forest guide strollers as well.
Century-appropriate garb is welcome, but 21st century wear is certainly acceptable for those time-travelers who didn’t have a chance to change on the way. The Faire is open rain or shine so keep the heat in mind. A hand stamp at the gate permits an infallible time jump as you go back to your car for bottled water in a cooler.
Many of the artisan booths gladly accept “Lady Visa, Master Card, Lord Discover and New World Express” as payment, but that green American money is wise to have on hand for small purchases.
Four-legged friends are permitted (please alert the staff if any unicorns, pegasi or dragons get off their leashes), however they must be registered at the gate and are not permitted near festival animals or stages.
For more information, directions, or to follow up on a favorite performer, visit
Note: Those who are taking Rt. 534 north may have a detour as a portion of it closed for construction last week. Plan ahead and watch for signs!
If you couldn’t make it this year, it’s never too early to get a start on planning your journey back in time for next season. And if you did make it and still wish you were there, modern technology does have its charms sometimes… when it means you can visit the official website, find other faire fans on facebook, and sign up for an email newsletter (more effective than a town crier!) to keep in the know about special ticket prices for next year or extend this season even further by submitting a particularly magical frozen-in-time scene to the post-2013 photo contest, a perfect way to illustrate the next chapter in this story’s happily ever after!

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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.