Two years ago I went to my local Renaissance Festival for the first time. It was quite an experience. I didn’t realize how immersive and truly amazing it would be. It was one of the highlights of that summer and I knew I had to eventually go back.
I didn’t get a chance to go last year, so I made it a top priority this year. It’s a couple of hours away and it’s a little pricey to get into, but it’s absolutely worth it. No other festival or fair I’ve ever been to comes close to the time and effort these people put into a presentation like this.
Let me walk you through it, using pictures from both 2010 and 2012.
There are essentially three highlights to the Ren Fest, the first of which is the immersive quality. Right off the bat you’ll notice signs like this:
And objects like this:
These things are everywhere. Even signs for napkins said something like, “sleeve alternative for the gluttonous.” Everything looks like it came straight out of the Renaissance, with the various wooden objects supported by pullies and brute strength. Even the rides are built in this way.
And that’s not to mention all the stands! Jewelry, clothes, accessories, food, herbs – you name it, they have it. Not only do they have it, but they’ve put a Renaissance spin on it. Jewelry is made of chain mail. Purses are leather or suede. Clothing is all in the style that was fashionable in the 1500s.
And what would a festival be without the food? (Dad and I pretty much go to these things just to eat.) I can’t go to the Ren Fest and NOT eat one of these:
Yep, that’s 1 lb turkey leg. I might not be able to eat the whole thing myself, but that doesn’t stop me from trying! It’s so worth it.
And while they do have things like Mountain Dew and plastic spoons for your ice cream, you can pretty much guarantee everything is going to feel like you just hopped in the TARDIS and landed in the Middle Ages.
The second highlight for me comes in the shape of the actors. This sort of falls in line with the immersive quality, but I feel like they go above and beyond every year.
I mentioned that the festival is a little expensive to get into, but I also think it’s completely worth it. The entire place is like one big show. Everyone speaks with English or Spanish accents and they never, ever break character. Sometimes they even perform little skits right in the middle of a road or outside a shop. Two years ago, someone came whizzing by us, holding a bag of money in one hand. A few seconds later came his pursuer – a man with a very, very large axe! It was 30 seconds worth of entertainment, but it was really funny.
They even have camel rides:
And a stockade where people can throw tomatoes at ruffians!
Each year at noon, the Queen and her entourage make their way down the main road:
The third (and best) highlight of the Renaissance Festival is the shows. They have several of them, all throughout the day, all over the village. They’re all free to get into (another reason why that entrance fee is worth it) and they have some really, really spectacular performers.
The main attraction is usually the jousting. It’s full-on contact, and they wear real armor and everything. A whole crowd gathers and you can cheer for your champion and boo for the opposing side. Here are some pictures:
Another show that I’d highly recommend (because these guys travel all over the place, so they might come somewhere near you!), is Don Juan and Miguel’s. These guys are right up there with my all-time favorite comedian Gabriel Iglesias.
Two years ago I just sawthe end of one of their last shows (I found out this year it was “The Weird Show,” which is probably the best one). They played with whips and swords and it was dangerous and hilarious. Plus they have cool Spanish accents. You really can’t get much better than that.
This year I pretty much went to the Ren Fest in order to see them again. We can to see their show called “The Renaissance Man,” which wasn’t nearly as funny as the one I saw before, but was still great!
The shows star Don Juan and his sidekick Miguel, plus Don Juan’s daughter Esmeralda. My dad asked her if she was new because we didn’t see her two years ago. She said she wasn’t and that she had been doing this for 18 years (Wow! She couldn’t have been much older than me!). Come to find out, she’s only ever missed one show…and it was two years ago! She was just as talented with the whip (sometimes even more so!) than her dad.
But the absolute best part of the whole Ren Fest was when I actually got to take a picture with these guys. They were great!!!
This place is definitely inspiring as far as writing goes. I wanted to head home and begin working on some novel set in the Middle Ages. This would be a great place to do some light research and really get the feel of the Renaissance.
Have you ever been to one of these before? What’s your favorite part?