Festival of Fools

The Festival of Fools, a shiny new Dun in Mara event, was held the weekend of 22nd – 24th March 2013.  It was a huge investment of time and energy by the Dun In Mara crew which certainly paid off, it was a great weekend.     I discovered rice porridge and fruit soup from Friday’s traveler’s fare, and sweet pretzels, the first sign of the great things to come from Nessa’s cooking for the weekend.

Saturday morning I was a breakfast minion for the ever wonderful Viscountess Susannah of York, always a pleasure.    I really enjoy cooking with people, I think cooking in a cast kitchen with a full staff would have been a pleasant enough sort of occupation, apart from the sore feet from all the standing.  It was an easy morning, swapping stories in slightly lowered voices while  stirring the porridge to stop it sticking or relay frying bacon.

For the morning there was fencing, and for me some inking.   Tuathal hasn’t authorised yet and wasn’t in attendance until after lunch, but he would have enjoyed the rapier competeion, the format for which was

Damsel in Distress! – The fighting has become personal, with the fencers dragging their opponents unwilling damsels into the field! In this tournament, each fighter will in their off hand hold a damsel while trying to defeat their opponent. Allowing your damsel to be struck (or indeed, using her as a parrying device) will result in a loss.  Please note, both lords and ladies are welcome to volunteer as damsels, but all damsels must be authorized fencers and must wear full armour.

There were traders at the event too, Donough of Eplaheimr (who trades at most events, selling findings and hooks, pouches, and miscellaneous bits and pieces) and Finn Ceramics who make and sell beautiful stoneware pottery and tableware.  I invested in a gorgeous Green bowl which I promptly cracked the side of the day after the event.  It’s a clean break though.   In honour of Nessa’s first feast I bought a goblet. (green, of course)

Archery was by far the most popular event, Tuathal and Art arrived just in time and headed straight there while I joined fellow minions Gytha and Hilka and Feastocrat Nessa for Feast preparation.

Pop Goes the Weasel  In the first round of the archery tournament, each archer will have three arrows each which they will shoot at a balloon covered target. Certain balloons will contain small tokens which the archers must release to progress to the next round. This will continue until only three archers remain, where a blind fold shoot will determine the winner with whomsoever arrow is closest to the center of the target.

Nessa’s kitchen was a pleasant and organised thing, she had done a huge amount of pre-preparation.   With Easter, on the way she had included clever little touches, like eggs coloued with onion skins, red cabbage and tumeric, “Beaver”, obviously a fish since it lived in water (fish pie) and meat options served separately by a dark figure in a dark cloak, who announced “Sinners! I bring MEAT!” with great relish.

The menu:

1. Spinach pancakes & lingonberry jam
Brie and pear tart (GF option, brie and pear)

2. Pickled herring (M)
Boiled Easter eggs (GF)
“Pomegranates” – stuffed cabbage leaves (GF)
Sinner’s Option: Pork ribs (M)

3. Fried turnips (GF)
Stuffed mushrooms (GF)
Nessaladière (M option)
“Beaver” – fish in pastry (M) (GF option, fish)
Sinner’s Option: Karelian meat casserole & broth (M)

4. Pashka (GF)

Tuathal got to the final round in the archery, and was very happy indeed.  Art got knocked out in an earlier round, but enjoyed it, and then he and Gytha’s girls wandered about the grounds attended Viscountess Susannah’s puppet play which Art tells me was “cool” and occasionally stopped by to scrounge from the kitchen, as any good medieval kid probably would.    At one stage we kitchen staff got to sit on the floor, chat for a while and enjoy the moment, which was a very pleasant thing indeed.

As we sat at feast Cassandra handed us little wire shapes and then revealed that the bowls of water bearing floating candles were in fact bowls of bubble mixture.  Art in particular appreciated this and bubbles in candlelight are a lovely thing.   The bardic performances were all excellent, I chickened out of reading a “letter” I’d written (with help from Aodh) for the occasion.  (another post, I think)   Other activities during the evening included a game of “Pin the tail on the Dragon” After the feast there was another surprise as we wrapped up well to brave frost and darkness to see a fire poi display.  The kids were especially enchanted and the end of the performance served as an excellent point to bring them on home.

An excellent event, I really look forward to this one again next year 🙂   There’s probably more, but right now I have a boiling kettle to see to.


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