Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Catching up with old friends in Muskogee Oklahoma

On our way to Minnesota we stopped in Muskogee Oklahoma to visit a friend of Lowell's from 20 some years ago. His name is Bob S. Lowell worked with him on the Minnesotas Iron Range many years ago.

Bob and his wife, Debbie are living full time in their RV. They travel the country and work as vendors at Renaissance fairs. They offer over 31,000 medallions in Gold, Silver and Bronze. The " drop hammer "coin mint was designed and built by Michael Stewart in 1971, based on descriptions from Leonardo da Vinci. Bob and Debbie dress in period costumes and are fun to watch as they interact with the crowd making custom ordered medallions. She is known as the Winching Wench because she cranks up this 150 pound hammer to a height of 9 feet, yells out "striking " and lets go off 40 tons of force to make the two sided medallion of your choice.

We had a great time visiting with Bob and Debbie for a couple of days. They dry camp at the fair site for any where from 2 to 4 weeks and then go on to the next Renaissance fair and do it all over again. They work about 11 months a year and take the last half of the month of December and first half of January off.

We attended our first Renaissance Fair, we have friends in Minnesota who go almost every year but we had never been to one.

Renaissance Faire (Ren Faire or just Faire) is an amalgam of many things. Its partly a craft fair, its partly historical reenactment, its partly performance art. Everyone working at Faire dresses in costumes (or garb) typical of the late Elizabethan period. There are many booths selling both crafts and food. Parades wind their way through the crowds. Jugglers, musicians, magicians, and other entertainers perform through the day. You wander about, examining goods for sale, sampling foods, watching plays and performers, and of course drinking fyne English Ale.

The camping area at the Renaissance fair is a small village of vendors. The RVs range from large to small and even a renovated bus. Small groups will mingle with each other. As in any little town there are clicques and local gossip.

We met several of Bob and Debbie's Renaissance friends one night over a spaghetti feed that Bob and Debbi put on. The quests brought various dishes with Debbi cooking the main dish.

One of the strangest vendors was a man we called the Monkey man. He travels in a large RV with a monkey. He and his daughter who also has a monkey take pictures of people with the monkeys on the customers shoulders. People line up to have their pictures taken with the monkeys at $5.00 to $8.00 a picture. The film is Instant so the picture develops on the site.

One of my favorites of their friends is this big guy called "Hoss." He is dressed in leather, blue jeans, rides a Harley Davidson, has tatoos and lots of silver jewelry. He makes drinking mugs and shoes out of leather and is also security for the camp area. Looks tough and probably can be if necessary but still is a sweety.

Lowell had to share stories of Bob and his adventures with working together. Soon "Hoss" is calling Bob "GOAT BOY." This will probably stay with him for some time, at least I hope so.

If you ever find your self at a Renaissance area in the middle of the country and see a " drop mint " making medallions check out to see if it Bob and Debbie. They will be in Geneva Ohio all of July. Should it be Bob and Debbie S please say " Hey " from Lowell and Grace.

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