Inaugural event takes guests back to medieval times

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Clay City Elementary School student Lacie Lee committed a crime. She did not want to brush her teeth.

The punishment for her actions was to be sentenced to the stockades, where her sister waited armed with tomatoes to toss at the criminal's head.

Lee and other local residents were transported back to medieval times on Saturday as crowds gathered at Clayshire Castle -- a medieval-themed bed and breakfast in Bowling Green for its inaugural Medieval Faire. The event featured several attractions including the stocks, booths, crafts, reenactments, mazes and musicians representative of the time period.

"It was very interesting, educational and fun," Riley native and Lacie's grandmother Jane Lee said. "The singing was my favorite. They were really good."

For Clayshire Castle owners Mary Jo and Douglas Smock, Saturday's activities were the realization of another dream they had after opening their doors a year-and-a-half ago.

The theme of the fair was "The Wars of the Roses" in recognition of the civil war between the royal houses of Lancaster and York over the crown of England. Smock's daughters, Katie Voges, Indianapolis, and Janie Brennan, Lafayette, played the roles of Lady Elizabeth Woodville, the "white queen" of the House of York and Lady Margaret Beaufort, the "red queen" of the house of Lancaster respectively.

"We enjoy it," Voges said, adding that her family has always had a strong interest in the medieval time period. "I like the history side of it."

Mary Jo Smock said many of those helping, from the preparation of the grounds to the sewing of the different costumes, were family members and friends.

Doug Smock said he and his family loved their trips to renaissance fairs in the past and he even was involved in different medieval reenactments. So, when the couple decided to build a medieval-themed bed and breakfast 15 years ago, opening up the grounds for medieval fairs was on that bucket list as well, along with Madrigal Dinners.

Mary Jo Smock said it would hopefully be the first of many. Other guests in attendance at Saturday's festivities shared Smock's sentiment.

"It was a great time," said Bowling Green resident Tiffany Schauwecker. "If they have it again, I would definitely come back."

She added she has been to renaissance fairs before in Fishers, Ind., and enjoys knowing something like this is so close to home.

The Smock set their sights on Clay County after initial plans to build south of Martinsville changed due to the construction of I-69. However, it seemed to have worked in the family's favor for as soon as they laid eyes on the new site in Bowling Green, secluded and with rolling hills, Doug Smock said they knew it was the ideal location to build the three-story castle.

"For a long time, we were a well-kept secret," Doug Smock said.

Since opening its doors, he added the support from the community has been very positive and he has fallen in love with the area even though it is quite different from his original hometown of Chicago. The castle is even named after the county within which it resides as "shire" is the medieval term for county, Mary Jo Smock said.

Doug Smock added, since they envisioned building their own castle over a decade ago, buying gifts for each other was easy. Family members would exchange gifts such as tapestry, throne chairs and other medieval trinkets in anticipation of realizing their dreams. Mary Jo Smock said a suit of armor, located in the great hall of the castle, was the first piece and is symbolic of their commitment to making Clayshire a reality.

"We enjoy it and want to do it," Mary Jo Smock said.

The castle is open Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations can be made online at www.clayshirecastle.com or by calling 317-797-3822.

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