L to R: Natasha, The Psychic Lady and Melanie LaJoie ply their

L to R: Natasha, The Psychic Lady and Melanie LaJoie ply their “fortune telling” skills at the mystics tent.

Empire-waist dresses, ballooning poet sleeves, puffed vests, monks’ robes, and flower garland crowns gilded young damsels and lords, countrymen and artisans as they passed through the village. Elizabethan history breathed life through the halls of the 500 building of the Winter Park 9th Grade Center as hundreds of English class students dressed in period finery passed from room to room, each representing a craft, skill or facet of life in a Renaissance village.

Trumpeters, flautists, and other musicians entertained. Jesters juggled. Artists painted. Weavers peddled their looms, apothecary shopkeepers displayed their potions and herbs. The King’s Banquet Room laid out tables of fruits, sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, bread pudding, pies, cookies and other foods suitable for feasting. Faces were painted and a milliner’s store offered hats, hair jewels and hair braiding. There were games of chance, games of physical challenge, and next to the mystics tent a

A demo and explanation of bread making. photo by Karen Kuzsel

A demo and explanation of bread making. photo by Karen Kuzsel

witch’s lodge was alight with candle glow as she taught novices the power of myths and enchantments.

Myself as Natasha, The Psychic Lady, and my dear friend and sister psychic Melanie LaJoie sat under a tent roof of colored silken scarves, reading students from 7 a.m until 2 pm, as they came through the “village” during their scheduled 50-minute English class time. We were joined by four young readers sitting on pillows at the fore of the tent, each of us plying our individual skills to all who sought insight. As part of their final assignments for their Elizabethan Arts studies, the 9th graders had a booklet stamped showing their participation at various locations.

Emporium for herbs and potions. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Emporium for herbs and potions. photo by Karen Kuzsel

For more than 25 years, the school has called this late May Winter Park, FL school celebration the Shakespeare Festival. This year the event moved out of the gym and into the two floors and the outside playground surrounding the 500 building. Renamed the Elizabethan Arts Festival, it is a testament to the dedicated teachers and volunteers—including former students who return to “give back” the pleasure they had gotten, that make this such a richly rewarding, educational and stimulating participative experience. For Melanie and I, this was our second year providing positive readings and we “foresee” many more to come.

Note: For the sake of protecting the privacy of students, I purposely did not take pictures of any participants. The pictures in this story are just to show some of the displays.

In the witch's tent, students learned of myth and enchantments. photo by Karen Kuzsel

In the witch’s tent, students learned of myth and enchantments. photo by Karen Kuzsel

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

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