Visit a Renaissance Festival? Really?
Every year since our kids were young, we have taken them for a day visit to the Renaissance Festival in Maryland. The Renaissance Festival is a recreation of a 16th century village located in different areas throughout the world and held for a specific amount of time and only open on weekends. It is a great day out with the family and or friends to step back in time and enjoy all that the festivals have to offer.
Each fair has a different story each year, with professional actors dressed in Renaissance costumes, playing out the story throughout the day in different areas of the fair. Some weekends have a different theme like pirate weekend, kids weekend, and Shakespeare weekend. The historical accuracy varies, and a good amount of overlap occurs across centuries, but everyone’s having fun.
Vaudeville is What It’s All About
Our main draw for going to the fair are the shows put on throughout the fair at small, outdoor theaters. It is truly one of the best places to see good vaudeville and for our kids, they love seeing this form of art and theater. For years our family, along with many other visitors went to the same sword swallowing performance, Johnny Fox. We knew his act by heart, but still went back as he was truly an entertainer. Adding a bit of magic, humor and of course sword swallowing. He entertained kids and adults alike and the show never grew old. Sadly, he passed away from cancer, but performed right up to his last moment.
Other venues offer, acrobatics, comedy, music, food demonstrations of food that was served in the Renaissance, choreographed sword fights, alchemy, and magic. You can even find falconers showing off their birds of prey and dangerous stunts performed.
Throughout the fair grounds, kids can find all sorts of attractions designed just for them. The Maryland Renaissance Fair features many of these kid friendly attractions. There is the Jacobs Ladder, a three-ring ladder held up on both ends by rope. Kids and adults will like the challenge of trying to climb to the top without the ladder turning on it’s side or upside down and dumping the challenger off. Our daughter beat this once, but she was a full fledged gymnast at the time, so her core muscles were well trained.
Face painting, hair braiding, pony rides, a playground set in the shape of a ship and a climbing wall are a couple of others. Not sure how a climbing wall relates to the Renaissance, but kids love it. There is also a long wooden slide that kids and adults can slide down on a mat, for a small fee.
Throughout the day at the fair, visitors will find a jousting match. Usually the king and queen are there and two riders compete against each other. Unlike Hollywood movies, the lances do not explode upon impact into tiny little pieces. However, this is one of the main events of the fair, horses, lances, theater and action Show up early to get a seat, as it typically fills up fast.
Food and Drink
If you have ever been to state or county fair, you are familiar with the midway and all of the food carts selling a variety of fried and greasy treats. This is the same for the Renaissance fair, there are recreated village homes selling a variety of fried and greasy treats. They also sell beer and lots of mead, a wine made from fermented honey and water and various fruit, spices and grains.
We typically get a variety of different foods and share among each other. Our typical food purchases consist of steak on a stake, fried pickles, deep fried mac and cheese, pickles on a stick, sweet nuts, turkey legs, soft pretzels, and desert. It’s a good excuse to go off your diet for a day.
Some women go way out of their way for show off their cleavage. They pick costumes to highlight and allow a lot of cleavage, more than I want to see and for some, more than they should be showing. At times, I want to shield my children’s eyes from way too much cleavage.
There are also some that turn the period costumes into some Steampunk variation of sci-fi meets Renaissance meets make up your own.
Not sure why this is worn at a Renaissance Festival, but it lends itself to great people watching.
Many of the professional actors have wonderful costumes that give visitors an understanding of what was worn and how elaborate.
If you don’t want to buy a costume, but do want to wear one, you can actually rent a costume at the fair.
What would a festival be without shopping? Visitors can come home with many knick knacks representing the the Renaissance era. Most items are hand made, leather wear, fantasy figurines, swords, celtic designs, garden art, tapestries, jewelry, stained glass, candles, engraved items, garlands, decorative head items like flower wreaths.
A Family Tradition
Our yearly trips to the Renaissance Festival have become a tradition every fall. We look forward to our day out with the kids, seeing new shows and trying new foods, and people watching.
We tried out the Faire in Pennsylvania this year as they allowed dogs. We brought the dog, which was great, but the feel was not the same. There were paved roads, where the one in Maryland is all trail and in the woods. It was smaller and fewer people. Part of the reason we go is for the people watching.
We will be heading back to the Maryland Renaissance Festival and will be leaving the dog at home. Besides, she wasn’t thrilled with her costume…