Hoggetowne Medieval Fair

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This past weekend, I visited the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire — mainly to see what was happening in the way of medieval musical instruments and also because I’d not been before. There were a range of activities and several wandering minstrels among the booths of crafts and food. The predominant item for sale seemed to be wooden swords and shields for children.   On the entertainment side, one of my favorites was the orange and blue clad juggler.   It looked like hard work to earn a living juggling fire and chainsaw.  But, thinking figuratively, we have all have had times when we’ve juggled the equivalent.  Somehow we learn to do it!

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On the music side of things, there were a few musical instrument for sale — such as provided by the ocarina wagon.  I did enjoy the tent that hosted a medieval group playing music.  With its predominant classical style the music and mood clashed with the raucous aura of the booths offering knife and axe throwing just across the aisle. The ensemble featured recorders of various sizes, a viol, sackbut (a type of trombone) and early fiddle.  A few pieces were played with a couple of crumhorns.

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As I wandered amongst the vendors, I looked for intriguing musical instruments of the period for sale.  I did find a curious type of wind instrument — like a small bird-shaped ocarina — that when filled with water made a convincing bird-singing sound.  You will likely hear it featured in the near future. But the real find came when I found a small and intricately carved rebec. The rebec is an early form of fiddle.  Its main advantage was that is was portable.  They had from 1 – 3 strings on them usually. If the body was large enough, reportedly it had a good volume for dance music. The small rebec I discovered was on a table with pamphlets and pieces of clothing. Somewhat obscured.  A one-stringed rebec! The top of it was made from leather rather than wood. The horse head top was carved with great detail.  I am curious as to the type of wood because it had a beautiful grain.

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As I chatted with the woman who owned the rebec, I found out she had purchased it in 1968 from a music store somewhere in Pennsylvania.  She used to play a song or two on it with its one string tuned by the hand carved wooden peg.  Even the pegs to hold the leather top on to the sides have been carefully carved in wood. This was the highlight of my medieval visit. Not even the knights who were preparing for the final joust of the day could top the tiny rebec sighting!

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  1. So you bought the ocarina but not the rebec? Looking forward to seeing and hearing thr oc.


    1. Heh heh. You are funny, John. The rebec was not for sale. Clearly a nostalgic item for the owner. She’d had it since high school. It didn’t play. I tried. She needed rosin on the bow. I did buy horsehair to make a bow for the rebec I’ll make one day! 🙂


  2. My kind of music in the clip but I don’t have clothes like that to play it in.


    1. If you were here and wanted to play that kind of music, they would lend you the clothes. I think, given the style of clothing for the women, I would spend too much time being restless in such constraining clothing and forget to play the music!

      Liked by 1 person

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