“The Champagne Faires were an annual cycle of trading fairs held in towns in the Champagne and Brie regions of France in the Middle Ages. From their origins in local agricultural and stock fairs, the Cha fairs became an important engine in the reviving economic history of medieval Europe, “veritable nerve centers” serving as a premier market for textiles, leather, fur, and spices. At their height, in the late 12th and the 13th century, the fairs linked the cloth-producing cities of the Low Countries with the Italian dyeing and exporting centers, with Genoa in the lead. The fairs, which were already well-organized at the start of the 12th century, were one of the earliest manifestations of a linked European economy, a characteristic of the High Middle Ages. From the later 12th century, the fairs, conveniently sited on ancient land routes and largely self-regulated through the development of the Lex mercatoria, the “merchant law”, dominated the commercial and banking relations operating at the frontier region between the north and the Mediterranean.”
Champagne Faire is the brainchild of Michel McNeese. Michel has been associated with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) for over 20 years. While she has always been creative, she was looking for a way to be able to serve the others in the organization as well as continue to find new avenues to express herself in relation to the society. She decided to open Champagne Faire, first as a vintage clothing store, creating hats and shoes using medieval techniques. She went to a couple of events and fairs and had a little success with sales, but found that she was still looking for the right outlet. She and her husband Terry moved to North Carolina in 2015 and Champagne Faire moved with them. The new property had a large workshop on it and provided the potential for real growth and Michel decided to buy a cutting and engraving laser. Using the small 45-watt laser, she started exploring new things that she could create with it. Besides creating some nice custom coronets, she was able to create medallions, mini portraits as well as contemporary items such as lamps, bracelets, and cutouts for cake toppers and art elements. A year later, the laser was upgraded to a large 100-watt machine. Faster operation and greater power have led to more precise and more ornate works. We also added a CNC machine and we’ll be putting that in use this year as we expand the product offerings and experiment with new projects.
Michel’s husband, Terry, is involved in the upkeep and maintenance of the various pieces of equipment used to make the products we create. He is starting to take on a larger role and is routinely operating the laser for production as well as learning the CNC for use in the business. An electronics technician by training, he was a Chief Reactor Operator in the Navy, so the all of the disciplines of the nuclear power job description come into play when figuring out how to use this equipment and getting it to perform optimally.
Champagne Faire has recently been producing raw elements for use in local art as well as cake toppers for customers around the country and will be expanding into that market over the next year. We hope to add another couple of CO2 lasers as well as a plasma cutter and a carbon fiber laser for use with metals this year. Please check out our Contact Us page.