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It Takes a Village 

Wentzville's Rotary Park is transformed into a medieval carnival

Remember the good old days? When people dumped trash from their windows right onto the street? When typhus claimed children before their teens? When illiterate peasants and toothless prostitutes filled the night with laughter and body odor?

Everything old is new again at the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire, coming to Rotary Park in Wentzville, Mo., on weekends in May. In truth, the folks at Renaissance St. Louis have cleaned up the Middle Ages for your benefit, depicting a sunny ideal of village life with jousting knights, craftsmen, song, dance, comely maidens and brave princes. There are even a few elves and fairies for the quick of eye.

The Faire employs a passel of strolling minstrels and actors portraying various villagers and nobles, with the royals decked out in period costumes of French, Italian and Spanish rulers. A renaissance fair offers the sort of interactive theater that transpires unexpectedly right in front of you: An apple vendor curses as street urchins pilfer and play catch with his fruit, taunting him. A queen and her attendants stroll through the scene, with commoners bowing as she passes. The village idiot gambols and drools for your amusement. It's kooky!

In addition to the costumed townsfolk, the kids will get a kick out of games of chance, arts and crafts, and the whole time-warp experience. Grownups can shop in a village with medieval atmosphere, where artisans demonstrate their skills and sell fantasy-themed knickknacks. Pubs offer old-fashioned brew, exotic foods and chair-busting fights between unfriendly clans.

Stage acts such as the Young Shakespeare Gutter Theatre and the Hamlet Complex entertain the crowd, along with the Middle Eastern dancers of Aalim Dance Studio. Celtic music is provided by Wild Mountain Thyme, and the sounds of Elven Drums, the St. Louis Recorder Society and Irish ensemble Seelie Court fill the air.

So bring along the local Dungeons & Dragons cell and cardboard-sword-wielding atavist from the Society for Creative Anachronism for more fun than you can shake a cat-o'-nine-tails at.

The Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire takes place May 13, 14, 20, 21 and 27-29 in Rotary Park, 2577 W. Meyer Rd. in Wentzville. Call 534-1111 for tickets.

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