Monday, October 4, 2010

Ft. Tryon Medieval Festival

Every year about this time black velvet, leather, and chain mail invade my neighborhood.  That’s when thousands (30,000 by last count) descend on Ft. Tryon Park for the Medieval Festival.  That’s also when local residents bemoan the invasion of our serene slice of Manhattan (the rest of the year we delude ourselves, saying nobody knows or surely they’d live here, when in fact it’s just too far away) and flee for the day.  The crowd mills past booths hawking bustiers, swords, crystal balls, incense, and other paraphernalia verging on S&M and necessary to the gothic lifestyle. Food stands sell giant turkey drumsticks (no one told the organizers that the turkey is native to North America and would have been unknown to the Middle Ages), mead, barbeque pork, and, in a geographical twist of fate, gyros, baklava and thick creamy yoghurt with walnuts and honey (the same culprit responsible for the turkey also failed to mention to the Greeks that this is mostly a Celtic affair).  Grandstands spring up on the Cloisters lawn across which unicorns and great sturdy steeds canter in jousts, churning up the grass and leaving a muddy mess the next day.  This year, there was a quidditch match (how they got the brooms aloft remains a mystery to me, I had escaped to lower Manhattan and arrived only for the joust at the end of the day).  Wizards, masked wielders of medieval torture, and busty women with loosely laced bodices roam the crowd.  Troubadours play flutes, ouds, mandolins, and tambourines while women in middle eastern dress spin sinuously, their hips encircled with jingling belts.  There is a certain cringe factor to the Medieval Festival, but I enjoy myself.  It is one of the last outdoor events before colder weather arrives and, though I would swim in the bustiers on offer, I am a fan of nonconformity.


Fourth Night said...

Baklava, bustiers, and barbecue pork... Oh, New York.

Veronica Hackethal said...

Thanks for your comment, Fourth. Everyone once in awhile here in the frigid North(ern Manhattan) we go in for bustiers and baklava.