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Classes relive medieval times

Classes relive medieval times

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NORMAL - Apparently few people who attended the Medieval Faire on Thursday smelled bad.

A handful of people bought nosegays - bundles of fragrant flowers - but they didn't necessarily hold the flowers to their noses while browsing around the event at Thomas Metcalf School.

Nosegays were a way to override body odor in the Middle Ages, a time not known for hygiene.

"Not everyone showered everyday," said Taylor Widdell of Bloomington. The sixth-grader had studied daily medieval life as part of a school project that started in October and led to the fair.

Dressed in period costumes and assuming personas they had researched, about 100 fifth- and six-graders created their version of a medieval fair on grounds north of their school on the Illinois State University campus.

The event included archery demonstrations, puppetry, candle making, role playing, bartering and reenactments by the Bloomington-Normal Society for Advancement of Creative Anachronism.

"I've arrested 20 people," said Josh Everingham of Danvers, who had taken the role of Lucas, a guard. He said he arrested people for stealing, rowdiness, illegal bartering, and in some cases, stalking.

The 11-year-old fifth-grader and his friends liked eating legs of chicken and other period-appropriate food with their hands. Several students noted that people of the era didn't use silverware or use the table manners children are taught today.

Gabriel Petersen, 10, of Bloomington, was known as Gabriel in his role as a medieval cooper. He had researched the life of barrel makers and told visitors about it.

"We want to do this again next year," said Petersen, a fifth-grader.

Other students were miners, candle makers and jewelers.

"They might try to trick you and say something is made of real gold," said Macy Andre of Bloomington, who portrayed a jeweler along with her friend Sterling Gipson of Normal. Both are 12-year-old sixth-graders in real life, but they were sisters for the fair.

Jane Thomley, the Metcalf theater arts director, called the fair an intensive portrayal of the Middle Ages that was student-driven. She said it was the result of a great deal of student research and work in creating their costumes and projects.

She said students got a realistic view of life and created a living museum through their portrayals. They learned about the dark side of the times, including the plague and early science, as well as the fun parts of life involving jesters, theater and music.

The students, under the direction of art teacher Lorrie Pflaumer, created detailed stained-glass windows.

While the fair was a project of the fifth and sixth grades, the whole school was involved.

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