KINGDOM CITY — Smoke from a nearby blacksmith's forge spilled over Chuck Friend as three pages buckled and strapped a suit of armor onto him.
The suit was solid steel plate, he told the small crowd inside his tent. Over 100 pounds of shining metal, just as a 15th century German knight would wear.
"There aren't many men who do this," the 64-year-old said. "I've always been fascinated (by knights). I had the idea I wanted to live as a knight in shining armor."
Realizing fantasies is what the 8th annual Central Missouri Renaissance Festival, hosted at Boster Castle just outside of Kingdom City, is all about. The two-day event, which kicked off Saturday morning, is housed inside Boster's roughly 10-foot high, circular wooden fence, forming a perfect palisade wall around the event.
Each of the nearly two dozen tents inside the castle acted as a different medieval time warp, from blacksmiths pounding iron to satirists butchering Shakespeare. A singing band of pirates serenaded a crowd as the warrior-entertainers, the Brotherhood of Steel, argued across a makeshift battlefield. Colorfully-dressed vendors poked at smoking and smoldering fires, chatting with visitors.
The event's director, Renee Young, drank in the atmosphere. She was happy.
"As much as we can, we try to get people lost in the fair," Young said. "We want people to leave happy and content and maybe sunburnt."
First-time attendee Christine VanPool came with her husband and two sons and their two friends. While she was new to this particular fair, she's a veteran of festivals in Kansas City.
"I think it's fun," VanPool said. "We're always willing to talk about different ideas, different aspects of (life)."
VanPool and her family weren't the only first-time visitors to the fair. The Iowa-based Brotherhood of Steel, whose tents and roped-off arena dominated the center of Boster Castle, were also new to the event. The group, which demonstrates medieval weapons like swords and poleaxes through combat, are regularly featured at festivals across the Midwest.
The Central Missouri Renaissance Festival may be small, but the brotherhood's members don't mind.
"I like it. It's smaller, it's open, and friendly, and it's nice," said Matt Schantz, a founding member of the brotherhood. "It's really well done. We'll be coming back."
That's exactly what Young likes to hear. The hardest part of organizing the event for her was booking vendors and entertainers. But the stress was worth it once the doors opened.
"My car caught on fire earlier this morning," Young said. "But I love (this). I wouldn't give it up for the world."
Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.