The queen held court in Ives Park on Saturday.

Children dashed around the royal tent, and ladies bound up and bursting forth in cotton bodices danced delicate jigs on the Sebastopol park lawn.

To the merriment of many, a small-scale Renaissance Faire had returned to the North Coast as a fundraiser for Sebastopol Union Schools.

"We've really been looking forward to it," said Karen Scott, who drove down from Healdsburg with her daughter.

Both wore elaborate dresses and had daggers tucked into the bodices that were hand-sown by Scott several years ago.

Like many who attended Saturday's event, the mother-daughter duo had been regulars at the Black Point Renaissance faire in Novato before it closed in 1998.

"We had been going since I was a baby," said Kate Ahumada, 28. "We're Renaissance faire dorks and proud of it."

Saturday was the first time they had worn their dresses in six years, and their jubilation was palpable.

"I guess there has been a vacuum in the Renaissance faire community," said Liz Schott, superintendent of the Sebastopol Union Schools. "Once word got out we were doing this, people just started coming out of the wood work."

About 2,500 people attended the mini-Renaissance faire, according to organizers.

"This was our biggest event ever," Schott said. "Way beyond our biggest event."

Schott credited a small group of dedicated women for pulling the event together. It was the annual fundraiser for the Sebastopol Education Foundation, which raises money for the school district and its 750 students. The money was still being tabulated Saturday, but it was clearly a royal success, Schott said.

Equally important, at least to the children fighting imaginary dragons or dancing to the piper's tune, the event rang of bygone traditions.

"This is a great festival for children," said Rebekah Graham of Santa Rosa.

Her two children, John, 7, and Mariel, 5, were dressed in 16th century garb. John wore an elaborate cap and carried a wooden sword for slaying monsters. His sister was adorned in a stately little dress, looking as innocent and maidenly as imaginable. But looks can be deceiving.

"I have a wooden dirk," Mariel said, pulling back her skirt to reveal a hidden little toy knife.

With the large and enthusiastic turnout of Saturday's event, Schott said there was certain to be another one next year.

"It would be unimaginable not to," she said.