Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Renaissance fair draws real falcon as mascot

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HAD Camira been a falcon in the age of chivalry, she would have been borne home on a litter with the honours of a wounded warrior and treated by the royal physician.

That piece of lore is lifted from the pages of history, but the peregrine falcon who bears the melodic name is a real bird, missing a wing from a dive into some hydro wires in 21st-century Winnipeg.

Camira attracted her fair share of attention at a Renaissance event in St. Boniface Saturday where modern-day warriors opened windows into the Middle Ages, the age of pirates and even the fantasy world of steampunkers.

"Regal is a good word for her," smiled her handler, Kim Dudek, as the cherished mascot from the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre posed patiently for dozens of photos at the Swords and Sabres Pirate Renaissance fair at Coronation Park.

Fair sponsors called the daylong event a great success. "We had 5,000 to 6,000 people here today. This is city of festivals that have to fight it out every weekend with other festivals so definitely, I'm pleased," said Mike Paille, who is also Winnipeg's Comic Con organizer. He came dressed in black pirate gear looking a lot like the famous Blackbeard.

"Falconry is so much a part of the Renaissance," Dudek said as Camira's piercing gaze moved with instinctive predatory stealth back and forth over the crowd watching her.

Celebrity guests at the event included Martin Klebba, best known for his appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He charged $20 an autograph.

Organizers also flew Toby Markham up from Chicago. Markham is an award-winning costumer and a regular on the Comic Con circuit best-known for his suiting up of Johnny Deep characters the Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, Sweeny Todd, Edward Scissorhands and Captain Jack Sparrow. Markham wore his Captain Jack costume, authentic right down to the linen vest and pirate jacket.

"This is a very dynamic niche market and it's big here," said the fair's publicist, Stephanie Meilleur.

Jeremy Janzen, 35, a massive blond who looked like he'd stepped straight off a Viking raid instead of a semi-rural home in Morden, wore the trappings of a Teutonic knight, every link in his chain mail made by his own hands.

At his waist, Janzen wore a single-handed sword, sheathed because it was real and he's trained, for real, in the art of sword fighting.

"I wanted to see what this was all about," Janzen said. "It's like a place where all the nerds and geeks can hang out."

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2013 A4

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