From minstrels to maidens to musicians, Zernís Farmerís Market at 1100 East Philadelphia Avenue in Gilbertsville was bustling with activity on Saturday, January 12 during the second annual Frozen Fantasy Fair and Craft Bazaar.
The yearly event was the brainchild of North Hampton resident Bryan Berkenstock, the proprietor of Captain B Pyrate Stock, who designed the festival to be a small scale Renaissance fair, complete with entertainers, vendors, and a medieval feel.
ďI remember coming to Zernís when it was really crowded,Ē Berkenstock explained. ďI thought it would be great to hold a fair here to draw people back out, so thatís the basis of this whole thing.Ē
For the past three years, Berkenstock has been participating in Renaissance fairs, festivals, and the like selling pirate flags, flasks, jewelry, and novelties. While working at these events across Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, he made many contacts as well as friendships with the other vendors and performers, many of whom he invited to come to the Frozen Fantasy Fair.
ďThe circuit is really close knit. Almost everything being sold here is handcrafted. Itís all made in America, and itís made by someone who lives not too far from you. Buying from these vendors helps support the local economy,Ē said Berkenstock.
Vendors were selling everything from handcrafted fairy wings to uniquely styled jewelry and included Captain B Pyrate Stock, Dress Your Dreams, Elven Creations, Black Cat Red, Hann Crafted and Put Togethers, InFamous Welsh Cookie Company, M.F. Thomas Enterprises, Water Fae Reading, Jewels of a Find, and Happy Hooker Crochet.
One of the vendors who hails from Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Sara Billiard of Jewels of a Find was participating in the fair for the second year in a row. Following last yearís event, she opened her own stall in Zernís and has been working there on weekends ever since.
ďEverything is handmade by me, and some of the designs are even copyrightedĒ explained Billiard. ďIíve been doing this over 13 years. I started out making jewelry as something to do and quickly became addicted to it.Ē
At the Dress Your Dreams stall, owner Susan Belloff displayed her complete line of hand-sewn costumes, clothes, and accessories for Renaissance fairs, weddings, and role playing games. Belloff has been sewing since she was a child and has been fashioning Renaissance wear since 1999.
According to the Manheim resident, ďI work out of the house. I sew and it takes me all year long to make enough to have in my stores for the events. I have a shop at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair, and itís my main show because it runs 12 to 13 weekends. I need to sew enough to keep open for 13 weekends, and I make a lot of custom things as well.Ē
Performers included fiddler Keith Engle; Suffiyah Nahila Elizar, the owner of Dancers Oasis, who performed a gypsy dance; Jack Mood and Brenda Landt who used guitars, flutes, recorders, and tambourines to create a unique blend of old English folk and Celtic music; and Frank Douglas who performed as Pokie-Poke the Jongleur and has an act that includes juggling, comedy, magic, and audience participation.
In between the performersí half-hour sets, music was provided by deejays from SoundTrax, and during the course of the afternoon, performers from Mad Dash Minstrels walked through the crowd sharing their blend of humor and performance art.
Berkenstock maintains the fairís website year-round (www.frozenfantasyfair.com) and will start planning next yearís event this summer. He hopes that the Frozen Fantasy Fair and Craft Bazaar will continue to grow each year, including the addition of having more sponsorships to help defray costs for participants, especially the performers who this year showcased their talents gratis.
As Berkenstock explained on the eventís website, ďFrom jewelry to armor, thereís something for everyone to admire and enjoy,Ē and he encourages the community to learn more about these Renaissance fairs and festivals and to come out to the Frozen Fantasy Fair next January.
ďTo come to one of these events is really an adventure,Ē said Berkenstock.
For more information about the Frozen Fantasy Fair and Craft Bazaar and the vendors and entertainers who performed, visit www.frozenfantasyfair.com or contact Bryan Berkenstock at (610) 440-1614.