Time travel in Ocean Springs

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - To most people, jousting is a piece of history or maybe even a fairytale. But in Ocean Springs this weekend, the Middle Ages were alive and well. St. John's Episcopal Church transformed Freedom Field into a living history book at their 8th Annual Renaissance Festival.

"We just thought it would be a fun event and something completely different that no one in the state of Mississippi is doing," said organizer Michele Hale.

The festival featured jousting, music, vendors, flower wreaths and more to help South Mississippi take a voyage to year's long gone but not forgotten.

"Outside that fence is the mundane world," said George Lehr, who frequents Renaissance fairs across the South.  "Ok, so for a day, you can forget the mundane world. If you want to be a wizard, you be a wizard. If you want to be a knight or a lady of the court, you can be that for a day."

Lehr chose to be a wizard for the weekend's festival, but John Grigsby chose to stick with his regular clothing. He said seeing other people's costumes were part of why he loved the festival so much.

"I think it's just the opportunity to see something you don't get to see every day," John Grigsby. "People tend to be fascinated by watching people walk around in period outfits."

And for many of the entertainers, it was a chance for the crowd to learn by living.

"The education here is enormous," said Shane Adams, a professional jouster.  "It's like taking a page of history and turning it into the real thing. Having it come to life."  He and his jousting troupe are based in Canada, and come down every year for the event.

Most people came for the spectacle, but their dollars are going right back to into the community. St. John's is donating the proceeds to South Mississippi charities.

"We've raised over $10,000," Hale said. "We just thought, if you've got to raise money, what a fun way to do it."

Adams said he's enthusiastic about St. John's unique approach to fundraising.

"It worked," he said. "Thousands of people have come to these events, thousands of dollars have come through the public's hands for entertainment and gone to a good charity."

Both Hale and Adams hope to start an "educational day" for Mississippi students.  If the project gets off the ground, students from all over the state will be invited to an event similar to the fair but with a greater emphasis placed on history.

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