Miami's class-conscious 1536 style Renaissance fair

Lord Mayor Richard Weber walks around the marketplace of Port Isabella, taking a visitor on a tour of his domain.

The year is 2010, but it may as well be 1536. One shop offers hand-crafted glass, while a nearby pub sells ale. In the distance, lances are piled inside an empty jousting arena.

Alas, Port Isabella is situated on Virginia Key, which means the elaborate Renaissance-era dresses and cloaks of its residents are constantly coated with sand. So Weber spends a great deal of his time stopping to give quick pats to subjects' clothing to rid them of the wretched grit.

While performing his duties, a maiden walks up to him. ``Do you know how to do a spiral?''

It's not a come-on, but rather a reference to the lacing on the back of her corset.

The setting is the Florida Renaissance Festival, and Weber is the festival's costumer and entertainment director. It's his job to make sure more than 500 costumes -- including men's tunics, doublets and the billowing, conical farthingale dress worn by ladies -- are suitable for a typical Renaissance marketplace, and are in pristine condition.

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