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Renaissance Festival sights unique

By Diane Wagner

I could have sworn I saw Sam Waterston at the Renaissance Festival this past weekend.

You know, the guy who plays Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy on "Law & Order."

I was thisclose to going up and asking who he was, but I had second thoughts. What would be the point? He was obviously enjoying himself and I didn't want to ruin his day off.

I've never understood people who mob celebrities in public, insisting on touching them or having their pictures taken together as if they are close friends. They may come into our living rooms via a television set, but they don't know what color our sofas are. They are strangers.

So, it just didn't seem right to walk up to a human being I've never met and say "Hey, do I know you?" Besides, why waste time talking to a human when there were elves around?

What's a TV star compared with the king and queen of England, a few trolls, a rash of mighty knights, a jester or two and dozens of bawdy serving wenches? Hmm. I saw one Xena-like woman warrior but, now that I think of it, it's pretty apparent the 16th century provided little opportunity for women.

But I love taking that step back in time the Renaissance Festival in Fairburn affords me every year.

Sure, it's a giant outdoor market?the biggest one in the Southeast, I've heard. Mostly what there is to do there is shop.

The first time I went, years ago, I was appalled to discover we actually had to pay admission to go in and buy things. Then I found the herb shop where cupfuls of lavender sell for $2 each. You really can't stay upset when you're sniffing a bag full of lavender.

Now I make the annual pilgrimage to get my Christmas shopping done, just as my ancestors probably did hundreds of years ago.

I don't mean they went to a 15-acre field in Fairburn. On Georgia Highway 74 about eight miles south of Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport.

But I can imagine them loading up the ox-cart once a year and traveling in to town to restock the rarities such as salt and ribbons.

The street musicians would be out in force, playing their ocarinas and lutes. Jugglers would perform in hopes that passersby would toss a penny their way, and acting troupes would give outdoor previews to lure paying customers to the big show that night.

Ahh, the hustle and bustle of big cities in the Middle Ages, where weary shoppers could grab a combo of fried pickles and ginger beer and watch the world go by.

This will be the last weekend for the fair, which replicates as much of a 16th century village as I think I could stand. For those who have never been, I highly recommend turning off the television set and wallowing in the atmosphere.

For a brief moment in time there is no "Law & Order," although there's a set of stocks on the green for those who misbehave.

Diane Wagner covers county government for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or dwagner@henryherald.com.