We went to the Renaissance Festival over the weekend. The Festival in Arizona has been running for 20 years now. I've been always meaning to go, but never got around to it. So, we finally went this year, and I was really surprised by how big it was and just how much stuff and activity was involved. It's a fairly huge complex, which makes me wonder how so much investment in building can be justified for something that only runs 8 weekends a year. Maybe they use the medieval village for corporate retreats or church camps in the off season?
All of the workers, and a large percentage of the attendees, were dressed in costume. The costumes weren't necessarily specific to a particular time period. There was authentic medieval garb, but also just some random fairy princess and pirate costumes and things too. I recognized pretty much everyone who was dressed up there as one of those AV club type social rejects from high school that stay in on Fridays to play D&D instead of going out for normal activities with the normal people. I can recognize them easily for they are my spiritual brothers and sisters with whom I shared my own tortured adolescence. For some reason, though, the years of social isolation I experienced did not cause me to make my own knight costume.
At one point, a youngish nerdy-but-cute blond woman in costume came up to me and said, "Prithee, sir, dost thou have the time?". I'm normally a little tongue tied when a member of the opposite sex who's even mildly attractive speaks to me out of the blue, but this had me completely flummoxed. I spent a couple of seconds trying to think of some appropriate way to respond but couldn't think of anything that didn't make me sound like a pirate. "Yar, it be half past four on the dial glass" or some such. So after a couple of seconds of stammering I finally blurted out "um, yeah, it's 4:25". She said "Thanks be unto thee" and walked off. I felt really bad afterward because I felt like I really let her down.
There were some attempts at authentic depictions of the middle ages, but most things you see there are just more medieval influenced. Here's one of the games they had:
Apparently, paintball battles were a big part of the middle ages (as was poor spelling). Other anachronisms abound. At one point I pulled out my iPhone and noticed that there was free WiFi available in the fairgrounds. The SSID for the WiFi network? "YeOldWIFI".
One of the huge disappointments of the day was finding out that one of the stands sold a Monte Cristo sandwich, but that they were all out. I don't know if a Monte Cristo has anything to do with the middle ages, but I would always eat one if given the opportunity, no matter what time period I was in.
There was a free petting zoo for the kids. While I was standing over the goose pen, Joey accidentally bumped my glasses and knocked them off into the pen. A goose saw them fall and started running over to where they were like he was going to eat them or something. I reached down and picked them up long before the goose could get there, but when the goose got to where the glasses were, he was evidently pretty mad that I had taken his newfound bounty away. While I was putting them back on, he stuck his long goose neck through the slats in the fence and started pecking me in the leg. It kind of hurt, and almost caused me to drop the glasses again, which I think was his whole objective.
I'm sort of getting concerned that Joey might be growing up to be a real wussy. Everytime we asked him if he wanted to do something like ride an elephant or something, he'd say no, and kind of shake his head in fear. We finally found this little butterfly swing ride to put him on:
This picture was taken right before the thing started to pick up some real speed. At that point, all trace of a smile disappeared and panic set in. Every time the swing would go around the side where we were standing he would quickly shout "DaddyMommyIdon'tlikethisanymore" or "DaddyMommyIdon'tlikeitgoingfast" in the quarter of a second he had before he spun around to the other side. Miranda, on the other hand, was bored and was trying to climb out until the swing really got going, at which point she was laughing and cackling.
Joey redeemed himself a little at the end of the day when we found a playground at the end of the fairgrounds. Instead of going to the little kids' slide, he went straight to the big slide and started going down it head first, landing face first in the sand every time.
Thus ended our day at the Renaissance Festival. And no, despite my overwhelming desire, I never invited anyone to "sample my fist":