Day 3: April 27, 2014
A-Viking I Did Go

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When planning a trip with a loose or non-existent schedule, I often look around to see what sights or activities it might be possible to include. In planning this trip, I somehow stumbled onto the Ashville Viking Festival. It was scheduled for the same weekend as the OLHL meeting and Ashville's location a few miles south of Columbus made it an easy reach on the way home. The festival went on my schedule. When the meeting was over, I would go a-viking -- in a decidedly meek and light-on-the-pillaging sort of way.

I didn't lose sleep wondering why there was a Viking festival in central Ohio but I did think about it and did learn that sports teams at the local high school are called Vikings. That means it is at least possible that the festival is named for them. It isn't an overly strict Viking festival. The emphasis is on 10th century Viking culture but re-enactors from other cultures and even other periods are permitted. The big longship is sort of the centerpiece of the festival. In years past, it has gone sailing on the Scioto River in the lead up to the festival as can be seen in this video but, for reasons unknown to me, it was not launched this year.

Vendors and entertainers of all sorts abound. On my first pass through the grounds, I took in a magic show and a pair of fire eaters. I sipped a cup of coffee while watching a well done presentation on early European weapons and battle techniques.

Mounted knights were at the center of the festival's most elaborate production. Members of Combatant's Keep delivered demonstrations of basic skills, a round of "Whac-a Knight", and some full on jousting. None of this is simple or easy. This crew is definitely serious about having their fun.

Odin's Orchids from Laylia's Dance Studio were nearly as entertaining as the knights and their show was a lot less dangerous. I'm guessing that both costumes and makeup were cranked up a bit to fit festival. There was some great drumming and dancing and I appreciated both.

This is a tiny sample of the numerous musical acts. Bob Ford and the Ragamuffins delivered some delightful Viking tinged Irish music and the fellow in the yellow kilt was quite good on both the twelve string guitar and the hammer dulcimer though his name got away from me. The Graham Irish Dancers put on quite a show and burnt up more than a bit of energy.

There were several food vendors around though hotdogs and chicken fingers seemed the most common. There was at least one source for the somewhat more Viking-like turkey legs and beef stew or potato soup bread bowls. The population of armor and clothing vendors was good and there were two working blacksmiths on the grounds. I was fairly intrigued by the chain mail shop in the last two pictures but not enough to ask how many steel whips were sold this week.

Here is a panel of normal run-of-the-mill festival attendees. The fellow in red is Dreadpool the Pirate which I know from a card he gave me. I gather there is some connection with Deadpool and Marvel Comics but beyond that I know not. I did see one guy in a civil war era uniform. I probably should have grabbed his picture but missing it is far from my biggest disappointment. There was guy in the audience of the belly dancing and Ragamuffin shows who I'm sure had an incredible steampunk outfit even though I never saw it on. Various leather pieces, including a very cool top hat, were on the table beside him. When the Ragamuffins finished, I stepped over to the jousting area for a couple of pictures and he was gone when I got back. Before leaving, I made two more passes around the festival hoping to find him but had no luck. A picture of his "working" (the barrels rotate) Gatling musket is all I have to hint at what I missed.

This picture may be one of the reasons I missed Gatling Musket Man but it is a favorite nonetheless. With no shows in progress, some of the "squires" made use of the setup to practice and I caught this young lady just as she was about to snag that blue and yellow ring. I had a great time at the festival and everybody I saw seemed to be having fun but nobody looked happier than she did.

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