SONORA -- The sound of cannon fire reverberated as wee ones streamed through the time portal at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds on Friday.
They barely were able to contain their excitement.
In the distance, a medieval village awaited -- tents, storytellers, peddlers selling their wares. It's a place of enchantment, especially for a wide-eyed 8-ear-old from Escalon.
Here, it's possible to hone your skills as an archer or swordsman.
Here, it's possible to learn the secrets of the joust.
Here, imaginations are untethered.
It was School Day at the Sonora Celtic Faire and some 1,200 children seized the moment.
The wee ones fanned out across the fairgrounds, stopping for some quick instruction in the art of highland dancing, then, almost without warning, darting away to grab hold of a knight's "side sword."
Parents and teachers gamely tried to keep pace.
Again, the cannon sounded.
The feet of the wee ones moved ever so quickly, destination unknown.
"What's that?" one asked.
"Sounded like drums to me," came a reply.
No. It's a lone drummer. His insistent beat carried with it an ominous warning.
The wee ones charged ahead.
At the Viking Village, helmeted wee warriors -- carrying wooden shields and swords -- waited patiently for a chance to match wits with one of three scowling Vikings.
There was no fear in the heart of an 8-year-old who dispatched his opponent -- a man easily five times his size -- with guile and cunning and a secret.
"No, I wasn't afraid," said Taran Gilchrist of Escalon after he left the field of battle victorious. "I was a little shaky at first, but I take sword-fighting lessons."
Ah, the secret revealed.
About the only problem Taran experienced during the fracas was his ill-fitting helmet; it kept falling off. Luckily, his foe was willing to halt the battle periodically and help him put it back on his head.
Taran ran him through anyway.
Bee staff writer Mike Mooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2384.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Sonora Celtic Faire
WHEN: Today, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Mother Lode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora
$10 to $24, ages 5 and younger free; Sunday, $10 to $20, 5 and younger free