SONORA -- The sound of canon fire reverberates as the wee ones stream through the time portal at the Motherlode Fairgrounds.
They barely are able to contain their excitement this morning.
In the distance, a medieval village awaits – tents, storytellers, peddlers selling their wares. It’s a place of enchantment, especially for a wide-eyed 8-year-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’s “School Day” at the Sonora Celtic Faire and some 1,200 children are seizing the moment as Friday morning gives way to early afternoon.
The wee ones fan out across the fairgrounds, stopping here for some quick instruction in the art of Highland dancing; then, almost without warning, darting over there, hoping to grab a hold of knight’s “side sword.”Parents and teachers gamely try to keep pace.
Again, the canon sounds.
Keep an eye peeled for pirates.
The feet of the wee ones move ever so quickly – destination unknown.
Sounds like drums to me.
No. It’s a lone drummer. His insistent beat carries with it an ominous warning.
The wee ones charge ahead.
At the Viking Village, helmeted wee warriors – carrying wooded shields and swords – waiting patiently for a chance to match wits with one of three scowling Vikings. These are some pretty mean-looking hombres.
There was no fear in the heart of young Taran of Escalon, an 8-year-old of the Gilchrist clan, who had dispatched his opponent – a man easily five times his size -- with guile and cunning and a secret.
Mom and dad – Heather and Joe Gilchrist – beamed proudly as young Taran took time out to speak with a scribe.
“No. I wasn’t afraid,” he said after leaving 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.