Fellowship and wine close holidays in Sharon Springs
SHARON SPRINGS The holiday season was far from over Thursday night in Sharon Springs, where about four dozen guests at the American Hotel partied like it was Britain in 1475.
The annual 12th Night Celebration — which marks the traditional closing of the Christmas season and the upcoming celebration of the Epiphany — kicked off with guests being greeted by Dennis and Posie Shaw, who in their medieval garb of lengthy baggy tops and earth tones portrayed the lord and lady of the manor.
A modest cocktail hour took place in the entrance to the hotel before the couple invited “masters” to enter the dining room. The invitation was accompanied by a tune by four singers, also in medieval attire.
The outfits and theatrics were fitting considering the evening serves as a fundraiser for the Schoharie County Arts Council.
“It was just developed as an opportunity for celebrating the season and benefiting the arts council,” said Michael Vandow, president of the council’s board of directors.
He noted that not much has changed in a decade of running the event.
“The attraction is good friends and good food and good music,” he added.
The council, which is dedicated to bringing arts to the county, usually hosts a jazz dance festival, a writing workshop, annual exhibitions of fine arts and crafts and other events during the year. Vandow said he hoped the evening would raise a couple thousand dollars for their cause.
Once seated in the dining room around 7 p.m., the crowd of well-dressed older people were treated to almost continuous singing and storytelling. Hosting most of the dinner were the lord and lady of the manor, who played off their real life familiarity for a few bits of humor.
“She wasn’t always a lady,” Dennis Shaw told diners. “She used to be the chamber maid, but I promoted her.”
Following this banter, which included a warning about the fire exits, the four singers returned for a handful of tunes. During a rousing rendition of “Gloucestershire Wassail,” which has a repeated chorus of the phrase Wassail, one of the more rowdy tables swayed in unison to the beat.
As part of the historic tradition of the event, according to the lord and lady of the manor, the head of a boar was also paraded around the dining hall by two of the singers.
The rest of the evening was to include dinner courses, the ceremonial crowning of the king and queen, a farewell round of singing and some parting thoughts from the lord of the manor.