May Day gets medieval at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum

Kick off spring with the third annual May Day Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 4, at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, 411 Kent St. The event is sponsored by Associated Bank.

Members of the Society for Creative Anachronism—dressed in medieval garb—will be on hand to demonstrate crafts and skills of the Middle Ages. Visitors can see bobbin lace being woven, old-fashioned decorative bookbinding, and beadwork. Fencing and armored combat demonstrations will be done every half hour. At 2 p.m., the Mendelssohn Club Youth Choirs will perform music from around the world.

Visitors also can tour historic Tinker Swiss Cottage, the 1865 home of Rockford businessman Robert H. Tinker, who built his unique home after an inspirational tour of Europe. The home, filled with the original furnishings, artwork and diaries, offers a glimpse of Rockford a century ago. The Museum has added “Hands-On Kits” to its tours; in each room of the historic Cottage there is a selection of reproduction items that children and adults alike can touch and explore.

In addition, visitors can view a new exhibit in the Tinker Barn and Visitor Center: “John Blair: Rockford’s First Landscape Architect.” Blair, who lived in Rockford from 1854-1865, was a close friend of the Tinkers and made his mark upon Rockford with unique garden designs. Later, he served as superintendent of Chicago’s Park System.

May Day, usually celebrated on the 1st of May, has traditionally been a way to welcome the spring season with open arms. Popular in the Middle Ages, May Day enjoyed renewed interest and popularity in the late 19th century. May Day festivals included dancing around a May Pole hung with ribbons, dramatic pageants and tumbling exhibitions, and the delivery of baskets of fresh spring flowers—“May baskets”—to neighbors and friends.

Admission to the May Day Celebration is $5 for adults and $2 for children. Tinker Swiss Cottage is just south of Davis Park at 411 Kent St. Information: 964-2424.

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