WHILE LANCASTER, Ohio, isn’t known for its medieval history, you can go to its Charles Alley Nature Park on October 7 and 8 to stroll past the Roman Empire, through the age of the northern seafarers, and on to the demise of the armored knight.
The annual, free Days of Knights event presents a historically accurate re-creation of the European Middle Ages. Organizers and participants construct a chronologically organized encampment. It features reenactments of the lives of ancient Romans, the Vikings, the Crusaders and soldiers of the Hundred Years War, early 16th-century German Landsknecht mercenaries, and the 17th-century hussar cavalry in Poland.
Cool field presentations include Roman legion drills (with commands in Latin, no less), Viking combat, levy training, armor through time, and weapons of the 16th century. New this year is a feast to show how the lord and gentry of the manor behaved, how food was served, and what sort of entertainments were had. Demonstrations of early firearms, cannons, polearms, and longbows illustrate how such innovations spelled the end of knight combat.
The living history enthusiasts who reenact these periods come from all walks of life and include doctors, firefighters, engineers, professors, and artists. They drive from as far away as Rhode Island and Minnesota, and all share a passion for the period and for presenting it as accurately as possible. An authentic sword can cost up to $4,000, while the custom, full plate armor worn by some reenactors is worth around $30,000.
But don’t think this child-friendly festival is all about warring. You also have the opportunity to play quaint period games, view tents and living quarters, see how meals were prepared and iron was worked, learn about early medical treatments, and more, all of which should make the kids come away realizing just how good they actually have it.
IF YOU GO…
EAT: Provisions Bakery & Deli, serving delectable sourdough French toast, flaky pastries, and a huge menu of sammies, salads, and soups, is a fast, reliable breakfast or lunch spot.
SHOP: Glassware retailer Gay Fad Studios continues the legacy of local artist Fran Taylor and her elegant midcentury designs.
FOLLOW ALONG: The area boasts 25 “trails,” including ones for lovers of coffee, scarecrows, sweets, covered bridges, beer, and gardening.
Distance: 215 miles
Drive time: 3.5 hours