“What do the simple folk do to help them escape when they’re blue?” Lady Guinevere asked King Arthur. All they could come with was that simple folk sit around and wonder what royal folk do. To avoid becoming blue, I decided to find out what the royal folk do by going to the local Renaissance Festival.
It is a mere few miles through the enchanted forest to the local Renaissance Faire where simple folk and royalty alike celebrate the merry month of May in some most unusual ways. With Renaissance Festivals commonplace across the county, anyone inclined to explore the out-of-the-ordinary can probably find a place to do so. Besides, I hadn’t had a close encounter with royalty since the time I saw the changing of the guard in London.
According to my information, festivals are a combination of period reenactment, craft fair, food festival, and artistic performance. As legend would have it, the festivals first started as reenactments of the Elizabethan era but morphed into a somewhat bizarre celebration of mythology and times of yore. I supposed that somewhat explains those characters running around in the woods.
The fair seems to attract an odd assortment of people, to say the least. Some dress up and talk in Shakespearean language because they belong to guilds involved in historical recreation. Some simply love what the British call “fancy dress” and enjoy the fun of wearing unusual costumes. A few, I suspect, are merely weird and probably should be locked up somewhere in a stone tower.
If you are among the curious spectators, there is certainly plenty to amuse you. There are shows with musicians, folk dancers, magicians, fire-eaters, and improv comedians. There are games and competitive jousting with knights in shining armor riding real horses. I felt certain that Lancelot was waiting to scoop me up and carry me away, but apparently, he was too busy dueling to seek my favor that day.
Spectators as well as staff are encouraged to wear period costumes. Visitors tend to come up with some pretty outlandish costumes and not to worry too much about authenticity. If you ever need an excuse to dress or act strangely, this is the perfect opportunity. Personally, I’ve never felt the need to dress up like a wench or damsel, but to each his or her own.
You could probably come up with a somewhat realistic costume from your own closet if you favor billowy sleeves, tights, and tall boots. As luck would have it, my hoop skirt and tiara were at the cleaners. Fortunately, most spectators do not wear costumes or try to talk in Old English so I was not alone..
In case you are wondering, Renaissance festivals are rooted in ancient seasonal festivals that celebrated spring. The old traditions come from an ancient pagan period when folks believed in magic and that spirits lived in trees. The coming of spring was the rebirth of nature celebrated with revelry. In other words, they had spring fever.
On the day I was at the fair, the mud left from the previous day’s showers provided an extra bit of authenticity. I could only imagine the soggy spirits that probably came out of the woodwork that day as actors and spectators sloshed about in the rain. Have these people never heard of cobblestones?
I watched the performers while munching on a huge fried turkey drumstick, also known as feasting on fowl, I believe. In addition to food, I found a somewhat better level of crafts this year than in past festivals. I especially liked the amber jewelry with tiny bugs entrapped in the stone, like spirits from the past.
I know what you are thinking. I’ve spent way too much time at the Renaissance Faire, and am starting to babble nonsense. Knock on wood, and maybe I won’t need therapy.