Peasant walked alongside royalty sipping grog and watching swordplay Sunday as the banks of Lake Casitas were turned into a 16th century fair for the fifth annual Ojai Renaissance Festival.
The event near the east end of the lake was complete with "Queen Elizabeth," who roamed her kingdom bestowing upon her subjects penalty or praise, depending upon their nature--and her mood.
"I came to give the queen a gift," said 8-year-old Cika Cook of Templeton. The gift was a song, and if she did well Cika would receive another ring for her collection. All she had to do was wait until the sword dancer was finished with her act.
Julian Engel, 4, and his 6-year-old brother, Cole, both of Piru, were more interested in the fair's other attractions--namely the games and the rides.
First they tried their hand at another game of chance, the Cat-a-Pults.
"Nine cats for a dollar," cried out the barker. The object of the game was to wipe out as many "plague rats" with your nine cats. Those who succeeded were presented with pretty stones, bracelets or pendants by the "prize girl," Amanda Frazier, 6, of Moorpark.
The Engel brothers, including 7-year-old Augie, also tried their hand at the pinwheel--a five-sided Ferris wheel-type ride--in which riders are strapped down in a seated position and then spun around by a couple of the queen's helpers who seemed to enjoy their job a bit too much.
"We operate on scream power," cried out one of the workers. "The louder you scream, the faster we go."
Some riders were not as enthusiastic in their screams as others. The Engel boys were pleased to go as fast as the ride would take them.
And when all the rides and the games and the Queen's tirades were through, it was time for a song. That's when Amy Hamaker and the Septs of Liex took over.
Their rendition of "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye," a beautiful tale of triumph over the enemy, was sung to the tune of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
The fair was hosted by the Visions in Time Foundation, a nonprofit living history organization. The group travels to locations throughout the country giving 20th century residents a taste of life from the Elizabethan era as well as the Civil War.