Children dance around a maypole during the second half of the New Horizons Art Festival's Medieval Fest at Patriots Park.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
Columbia County's first Middle Ages-themed festival scored big with visitors and organizers Friday and Saturday.
Medieval Fest was the moniker of the New Horizons Arts Festival this year, and it was so successful that organizers want to carry on the theme indefinitely.
"This is by far the best New Horizons we've ever done," said Columbia County Recreation Director Charlie Beale. "So many people have gotten into the spirit of the evening by dressing in costume and having a lot of fun doing so. Everything looks fantastic. I predict that next year even more people will dress up, and it will continue to get bigger and bigger."
An evening festival was Friday night at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion, featuring roving performances from the Behind the Masque art troupe, a silent auction and a juried art exhibition.
For the first time since New Horizons began five years ago, the day portion of the festival was at Patriots Park, and featured arts and crafts, live performances, carnival rides and games, a children's story time and an antiques market.
"Patriots Park is so much more conducive to this type of festival atmosphere," said Ron Jones, one of the organizers of Medieval Fest and the director of Columbia County Arts Inc. "Everyone seems to be having a really good time."
Many of the festival's visitors said they enjoyed the uniqueness of the medieval elements.
During the children's storytime, Behind the Masque artistic director Rob Royce, dressed as a court jester, performed characters from the fairy tales being read to the children.
Nathan Lubeck, 11, of Martinez blows a trumpet to announce guests to the New Horizons Art Festival Medieval Fest.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
"It's so much more exciting for the kids to have someone performing to them, instead of just reading to them," said Martinez resident Karen Fulton, who attended Medieval Fest with her husband and two children. "It's the best story time I've ever been to."
For members of Behind the Masque, it was a chance to flex their improvisational muscles.
"We pride ourselves on being adaptive entertainment," Royce said. "We can mold ourselves into whatever is necessary for the occasion, and by being street performers we can make art accessible to people who normally wouldn't see it.
"The Medieval Fest has been a great way for us to introduce people to the arts. Hopefully, now they'll go to a play or a ballet and become more involved in what the arts has to offer."
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