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JAUNTS : Capturing the Trappings, Flavor of a Medieval English Village : Lake's south shore will be transformed into a 16th-Century encampment as part of the Ojai Renaissance Festival.

September 16, 1993|JANE HULSE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If you're up in Ojai this weekend, don't forget to bring that suit of armor. Or that plumed velvet hat in the back of your closet, or the shirt with billowing sleeves you wouldn't otherwise be caught dead in.

You'll fit right in at the Ojai Renaissance Festival. The south shore of Lake Casitas will take on the trappings of a 16th-Century English village called "Reveler's Cove."

It's a slice of medieval life featuring knights, lords, ladies and peasants dressed in period clothing and acting the part too. Musicians and street performers will do their shtick. Artisans will sell historical clothing and wares they have made.

Several encampments will be set up on the shoreline purporting to show everyday life during Renaissance times. At one, a countess, visiting her estate, will be honored at a grand feast typical of the day.

The calm of village life will be interrupted three times a day when a marauding pirate ship attacks and is greeted with cannon fire from soldiers on shore.

"There is no way you could believe this is a real 16th-Century village," fair organizer Mike Tolin said. "We want to get them to want to believe it."

Believe it or not, this is the third Ojai Renaissance Festival. The last one drew about 10,000 people over two days, Tolin said. This time the festivities will be held over two weekends. He expects a crowd of about 14,000.

They'll see competing equestrians attempting to lop melons off sticks with their lances. They'll test their throwing arms in a game of skill that could get them doused with water. They can even take a juggling lesson. And, of course, they can wear outrageous clothing.

"The fair is an excuse to leave your other personality behind," said Janna McCall, who sings and plays the harp as part of the duo Mallory & McCall. "In the world we have today, it's nice to escape to an earlier time."

You can also sample food from the Renaissance era, such as the Toad in a Hole, a sausage sandwich, or peasant pie. You can buy homemade ice cream too, hardly medieval fare.

The fair is not without a petting zoo. (What fair isn't these days?) But this one has an odd twist. One of the animals is billed as a unicorn. (Actually, it's a goat, Tolin said.) In a bizarre quirk of nature, the six-month-old animal only grew one horn--you guessed it--right in the middle of its head.

WHERE AND WHEN

WHAT: Ojai Renaissance Festival.

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday and next weekend, Sept. 25 and 26. Hours are 10 a.m. to dusk.

WHERE: On the shore of Lake Casitas, near Ojai. Special entrance to the fair is on Santa Ana Road. (You don't need to go through the main entrance to the lake off California 150.)

COST: Adults, $8; children 6 and over, $4. Parking, $2.

FYI: A portion of the proceeds from the fair will benefit the California Indian Education Center, a nonprofit organization that assists American-Indian students in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas.

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