Avalon Faire prepares new entry for March 31 open

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Avalon Faire returns next month, but the entrance people have come to know will have a more Medieval look to it.

The previous castle wall will be replaced with a Medieval fortress wall, founder and owner Adi DiShion said.

“You’ll see that rough-hued wall all the way across the front,” she said.

As the elements degraded the original wall, DiShion knew a new one needed to be constructed, so she wanted to connect it more with the fair.

“We decided to go with a more Medieval castle fortress because we’re not a big city,” she said. “We’re a small village; that is our premise of our fair, so we’re making it look as Medieval and small village as we can as opposed to a stone castle wall.”

It is a way to incorporate the story line of Avalon Faire, an Arthurian village market, into the entrance of the fair.

A catwalk between the pair of two-story towers will be used to help welcome guests in an opening gate ceremony.

Mel Chamberlain, who built the new wall, reuses as much as he can and thinks abstractly with his projects, using whatever materials he can, rather than limiting himself to a specific type or size of wood, DiShion said. Based in Arkansas, Chamberlain has constructed features for many Renaissance and Medieval festivals across the United States.

“He’s very artistic and very creative, and he has probably built something magnificent at every Renaissance fair in the country and the haunts in the country,” DiShion said. “He’s very unorthodox in his approach, but when he gets through, it’s just magnificent.”

All the wood used in the wall is first-cut wood they have gotten from different companies. The first-cut wood, or slabs, are from the outside of the tree and is typically burned, mulched or reused for projects.

“We’ve been going all over the country getting those first-cuts or slabs,” DiShion said. In total, DiShion said, she probably hauled at least 30 trailer loads of wood with some coming from Tyler, Mt. Enterprise and Liberty City.

As long as DiShion gets Chamberlain first-cut wood, she said, he can make just about anything.

DiShion and a small army of volunteers began working on the wall and other projects throughout the grounds in November following Oktoberfest and the Halloween haunts. Rain and other inclement weather have slowed progress, though, and has made for a tight timeframe to finish the main part of the wall before Avalon Faire opens March 31.

When complete, the wall will include two towers and eventually will include a six-foot-wide catwalk along which future permanent buildings will be constructed, leaving an alley behind each building for both the main Avalon Faire events and Knightmare at Avalon haunts.

For now the focus is on getting the wall and the two towers completed. The other additions to the wall will continue after the close of Avalon Faire April 29.

A second project under way now is a solid footbridge to replace a rope bridge that gave way during the fall.

In addition to the new one- and two-story buildings throughout the property, DiShion said, she would like to see a pirate ship or a Viking ship built on the Avalon Faire property to serve as a restaurant. Her plan is for the restaurant to give people an option to sit down and eat instead of just having to take it to go like they do at the current food booths on the premises.

Once again, this year’s Avalon Faire will include a joust each weekend, along with about 50 vendors and many different entertainers throughout the grounds. The Punch and Judy Show, Bohemian Jewels belly dancers, Judas Lynch and Magnolia Strange, Captain Thom Bedlam and Faire to Middlin will return to the Arthurian fair, along with new performers, including S.M.E.L.L. (Silliness, Mockery, Entertainment, Laughs and Libations) University.

King Arthur is expected to visit Avalon this year also, possibly on the final weekend.

With the first Sunday falling on Easter, DiShion has scheduled an Avalon Faire Easter Egg Hunt at the start of the day, starting at about 10:30 a.m., after the gates open at 10.

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