By HANNAH NIEDERRITER
On the third and fourth weekend of October, the first ever Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival and Time Travelers Market was held at the Venango County Fairground. Although the festival was aimed at a wide audience of comic-con and renaissance fair goers alike, those who did emerge themselves in this fantastical environment had the opportunity to witness a joust, observe the melodies of Minstrel Raven, play Beat Saber using virtual reality, and more.
Amidst the marveling wonders, there were many panels and other scheduled events for all to view. Individuals, both in cosplay and not, sat down for the Lady Thunders Panel, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Stories, a cosplay contest, and an in-depth lecture on Historical European Martial Arts to name a few. Those in costume did, however, receive a discount on admittance price for the entirety of the festival and market.
The most notable and anticipated of these events was the joust by a group known as White Stag Jousting. There were a total of two types of jousting, one where the rider held a shield in their hand, but had less control of the horse, and another involving an ecranche shield on the center of the rider’s chest, making them more prone to falling upon impact. The knights subjected to these actions were known as Sir Eric and Sir Kire.
According to one of the Fantasy Festival’s attendants, Zavier, who was present at the Joust, “There was very amusing back-and-forth banter between the lord and ruler of the lands, the Master of the Lists, and the Challenger, who happened to be the surprise son of the lord.”
In addition to the wide variety of panels and events offered at the festival, there was a noteworthy amount of vendors despite the small size of the fair. Many eye catching items were available from soaps to gemstone jewelry, renaissance and fantasy themed clothing to genuine chainmail. A sizable amount of these possessions were handcrafted, too. Of these articles, Pendragon Chainmail seemed to garner the most attention.
As far as the food goes, the Space-Tyme Pub contained food trucks with assortments of BBQ and deep fried delectables, the occasional dessert or carbonated beverage, and alcoholic beverages for those appropriately aged.
While the Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival and Time Travelers Market was small in size, attendees described the atmosphere as lighthearted and welcoming despite the occasional drizzle in the midst of October. Fairies, female warriors, Marvel characters, and peasants alike all went out of their way to interact with each individual who happened to share a similar interest of comic cons and renaissance fairs. Contact between panel holders and panel onlookers was consistent and friendly as well.
As said by Anne Kellogg, a local and experienced renaissance fair goer, “They (cast members) tried really hard to get the crowd interested in what was happening even if they couldn’t participate in something like jousting. They did their best to keep the audience involved.”
Jacob Exley, the cast of Lord Cerberus, also mentioned that, “While it did get busy at times, everyone from who I interacted with or saw was having a fantastic time and a blast just being there.”
When questioned as to whether or not they believe the Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival and Time Travelers Market should stick around for years to come in Venango County, all responded with great yearning for its continuation. As of now, it would be unwise to hold this festival to its larger, more experienced, and better funded counterparts, but with higher attendance, this event could become a profitable and anticipated staple of the community.
Activities such as this take the dullness out of everyday life. There’s nothing quite like being transported to an alternate world filled with warlocks, mermaids, and bandits galore even if it’s just for a weekend. Here’s to hoping for the second annual festival next year!
Hannah Niederriter is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications class.