After a birthday, a bad joke and a scenic half-hour drive to Schaumburg, I found myself cheering on the Don Eduardo del Rey, better known as the Yellow Knight, for the better part of Saturday evening.
Don’t you know the Yellow Knight? He is “well-versed in the arts of chivalry, yet in attack, he is the lion uncaged! Let the ring of stell herald his arrival and the smoke of battle linger in his wake, for a legend of the Realm walks among us.”
Yes, that Yellow Knight. The one from Navarre, which, seeing as how he rode a horse to the show, can’t be far from the Ikea in Elk Grove.
After my first visit to Medieval Times I understand why villagers would travel from across the king’s realm for the “Tournament of Knights” or “Battle of Champions,” depending on which brochure you are reading.
Few other places allow you to travel back in time without leaving the comforts of a glass of Sierra Mist. There are horses ridden by men with long hair, thick thighs and theater degrees. On a wide pit of sand they duel with swords, lances and stage combat.
Whether you are celebrating the spectacle or sharing an ironic laugh, neither squire nor wench will be able to tell. (I was somewhere in-between: I was there with my nephews, but I read “Lord of the Rings” on the way out.) No matter how many sparkled souvenir flagons you drain, you are still given a complimentary behind-the-scenes DVD.
A few other thoughts on the “Dinner and Tournament”:
- Medieval Times has to be one of Schaumburg’s top five employers. There seemed to be as many staffers, all in costume, as guests. If the castle were to close unemployment in Illinois would shoot up a full percentage point.
- The castle is a fascinating mix of Dark Ages and Modern Times. There is no silverware with the meal, but they do serve Pepsi products. The gift shop carries Samurai swords and pink battery-powered scepters.
- When the knights throw flowers to the fair maidens of their section, they throw real flowers. Real. Flowers.
- The Yellow Knight – the Knight of my county or section or row or whatever – won the tournament.
- The show operates on many of the crowd-involvement and storyline principles that are the cornerstones of professional wrestling.