So we attended the Texas Renaissance Festival this weekend (I'd thought we were going to Scarborough Faire, but it turns out that's in the spring). It was quite a to-do, with extensive grounds and actual permanent structures instead of tents and booths. We saw jousting (it was quite obviously staged, to our great disappointment) and heard a huge carillion and spent many moments trying to corral the older two. Fortunately we attended with friends, so the ratio of adults to children was in our favor for once.
I don't know why you attend a Renaissance fair, but the highlight of our trip was taking an elephant ride. I can't say what the elephant thought of us, but the girls found it gratifyingly scary to be perched high up on the back of the huge beast, and squealed accordingly. Afterwards they were able to scratch the elephant's ears. Does it get any better for a small child?
Quibble #1: Why is it that folks at a Renaissance fair feel the need to speak in quasi-Englishe accents? Do Hispanic attendants speak with Olde Spanish accents? I tend to think of France and Italy when I think of the Renaissance, but I didn't hear any French or Italian accents.
We caught the beginning of a show put on by a pair of fellows who apparently mud wrestle for a living. They were trying to get the two sides of the audience to clap in unison.
"Forget it!" one yelled. "You folks have no rhythm!"
"Maybe that's why there are so many kids here," said the other.
There was a smattering of snickers from the audience.
"You all aren't laughing," said the one. "Well, we don't have time to explain all the jokes to the non-Catholics."
Quibble #2: Dressing up as a Goth fairy or wearing a leopard-print bikini top doesn't actually have anything to do with the historical periods known as "The Renaissance" or "The Medieval Era" or "Texas 2006". Halloween is in a few weeks; I suggest you save it until then. That is all.
We caught a performance by a group of guys called Tartanic. (Ha ha!) They wore kilts and played bagpipes and large drums and put on a good show. The woman next to me was trying to get a picture with her digital camera, and the drummer sees her standing on tiptoe.
"Here," he says, taking the camera, "I'll get a good shot for you."
He heads up front and gets a photo of the band. As he passes by the band member addressing the crowd from atop a drum, he casually sticks the camera underneath the guy's kilt and snaps a shot. As I was standing next to the woman, I had a glimpse of the picture, and regretfully inform the readership that I can't answer the age-old question about what the Scots wear under their kilts because the photo was mostly of the guy's knee. Sorry, gang.
Quibble #3: Technically, attendees were not supposed to bring any food or drink onto the fair grounds, and the vendors responded accordingly by jacking up the prices of victuals egregiously. We indulged our rebellious streak and snuck in water and granola bars for the girls. I was glad we hadn't planned to find food inside, or we might have had to pay a visit to ye olde ATMe.
I suppose someone out there has cleavage on the brain, and I'm here to tell you that yes, it was in evidence. However, most of it was displayed by females who really should have been old enough to know better, and "alluring" or "provocative" or "come hither" wouldn't be the first words I reached for to describe the various chests we saw. Here's a hint to women of a certain age: No one wants to see your sunburned, freckled bosom. And there's a good reason why most women wear support undergarments nowadays. Just sayin'.
We enjoyed ourselves, but I can't say that the Renaissance fair is something I'd rush out and do again soon. I didn't see many demonstrations of authentic activities of yesteryear, such as weaving or blacksmithing or fencing or dancing or courtly manners. Plus, it's rather expensive just to walk in the door, to say nothing of the wares within. Perhaps when the girls are a bit older (of course then they won't be free anymore) we'd be able to stroll about in a more leisurely fashion and actually stay through an entire musical set.
ADDENDUM: Darwin pointed out to me that I make it sound like we didn't have a good time. We did, and I wish I could have seen more shows and displays. And I'll admit I snickered at the rhythm joke and the camera-up-the-kilt. My main beefs were with the prices and the attitude of some attendees that you somehow gain Renaissance street cred if you wear pointed ears or fuzzy tails. Star Trek has nothing to do with history, people! (Or the future, for that matter.)
And my issue with the cleavage has little to do with modesty or lack thereof, as much as the fact that many people seem to be utterly deluded as to their level of hotness. You're not all that, girl.
1 hour ago