Iowa Brit Fest showcases British traditions

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

The men’s faces became red, and grunts escaped from their mouths. A final pull of the rope sealed the win. The victors cheered and chest bumped as the losers sank back in defeat. A man wearing a kilt passed by with a plate that had a large sausage and a heaping pile of mash potatoes on it.

At the same time, children attempted to knock coconuts off poles as their parents examined a piece of medieval armor. These sights can signify only one thing: Iowa Brit Fest.

Iowa Brit Fest, which took place Saturday at Bandshell Park, showcased many British traditions. For instance, food vendors sold bangers and mash and tea and scones. Other vendors sold clothing common for people in the United Kingdom to wear. Children played games like “bat a rat,” where children hit toy rats after the toy passes through a tube. At the east side of the park, a soccer goal was set up.

“I like the football — the proper football,” said attendee Andrew Chapman.

Members from a local soccer club were near the goal watching a little girl try to kick the ball past her father. Behind the goal, a group of people sat around a TV and watched the U.S. soccer team play Ghana.

“I shot a few goals,” said attendee Emily Engle. “I also liked the society over there with the chain mail.”

The Society for Creative Anachronism, an organization that re-creates skills from pre-17th century Europe, displayed armor and weapons. Its members wore historical garments, and some even fought each other using fake swords and shields.

Next to the society’s tent, two children looked on as a woman showed them their family’s coat of arms. Dancers demonstrated to a group of attendees how to dance the “English Country Dance.” A few yards away, a comedian on stage heckled an audience member.

“The stage is my favorite part,” said David Lam-Lu, attendee. “I like the comedy and music.”

Live entertainment was offered throughout the day. British Export, the headlining band, impersonated the Beatles through song and dress. Mercurial Rage ended the night by playing 1980s songs. Audience members left the park humming songs from bands like the Cure.

“People seem to be really happy,” said Marcus Johnson, creator of Iowa Brit Fest and owner of Ames British Foods. “That’s what makes me happy: seeing people enjoying themselves.”

(Originally posted on Iowastatedaily.com on June 27, 2010)

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