For almost three decades now, upper Manhattan's gorgeous Fort Tryon Park (seriously: those Hudson River views!) has played host to the city's only full-scale Medieval Festival. Yesterday the Parks Department predicted that as many as 65,000 people might show up to take it all in, which would be a festival record. If anything, they were overly conservative with their estimate.
Lured in by promises of armored melee (including actual jousts), several billion huge turkey legs, dainty cups of mead (alas, no flagons), and access to some extremely nasty-looking weapons, Fort Tryon Park was packed all afternoon from one end to the other. The crowd was a happy, somewhat geeky mix of hardcore re-enactors and "Rennies," legions of stroller-pushers, lots of locals who seemed to have thrown on whatever Halloween costume was handy to get into spirit, and packs of straight-up goth kids.
There were performances of all sorts, from Ren-style buskers to olde-school craft and artisan demonstrations to a magnificent falconry display and a full-scale jousting tournament. The latter was accurately compared to "professional wrestling" by some wag in the audience, but no matter: the grandstands were packed to capacity.
Food was consumed in vast quantities. In addition to the ubiquitous turkey legs, people were plowing through all of your usual street fair food—fried dough, pickles, kebabs, whoopie pies—with vendors throwing a "ye" in front of everything on their menus. And, of course, there were plenty of people selling plenty of things, some more Medieval in spirit than others, most notably a vast array of crazy-sharp, crazy-dangerous weapons, including swords, huge knives, maces, and scary-looking "flails."