Saturday, April 3, 2010

Renaissance Man

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I was recently asked to blog about the Renaissance Festival, which I've attended every year for the last 25 or so. It is a recreation of a Medieval village, complete with costumed actors, performers, merchandise, food and drink. In order to convey what it is about RenFest that intrigues me, allow me to be your guide back in time. Sit back, relax and prepare to enter another place and time...

Approaching the village, you notice is the large, wooden stockade and entrance gate, and the surrounding wooden fence that keeps out intruders. A multitude of people mill about outside, including hoity-toity lords and ladies in their finery with their noses in the air, crass peasants covered in muck looking for that day's meal, well-built knights in not-so-shining armor, and of course the patrons, who are encouraged to dress in medieval garb (No real weapons, please). Adding to the authenticity, all characters speak the King's English, replete with "thees" and "thous"

Entering the village brings forth a multitude of sights and sounds. There are more of the aforementioned people, including the King and Queen of the village and their court. Music drifts on the breeze from the many stages offering performances from comedians to acrobats to minstrels. Brightly painted wooden stalls house the many merchants hawking their wares, including incense and soaps, jewelry, period clothing and weaponry, children's toys, and occult/pagan items. Ignore the occasional ATM or airplane flying overhead and you might just believe you have stepped back in time.

And who could miss the myriad aromas of food drifting through the air? It's all here, from traditional fare like hot, juicy turkey drumsticks, scones and fish and chips to more modern items like kennel corn, chicken wings and corn dogs. Don't forget to try the King's nuts; they're delicious and come in three varieties: cinnamon roasted almonds, cashews or pecans. I've heard the Queen loves them. Wash it down with your choice of a soft drink, a variety of beers and wines, mead or ale. Huzzah!

What's this? It look like a human-sized chessboard, and that's exactly what it is. What better place for the King and his rival to settle their differences with a friendly little game of live combat chess? Instead of pieces being removed from the board, people actually 'fight' with real weapons until there's a winner. Throw in some witty banter and one-liners and you have an enjoyable experience, if you enjoy comedy and violence that is.

Also for your entertainment there's real jousting on horseback and a plethora of games of skill and chance, including crossbows, archery, and even a peasant dunk tank. But if you're like me, it's the characters that add the real flavor and make RenFest truly enjoyable. There are tryouts several weeks before the opening for anyone that's developed a character and wants to get in on the fun. If you've stuck with me this far, here's my question:

If you were going to try out for RenFest, what type of character would you have and what would your audition be like? The only limit is your imagination!


SIS BJ said...

Hi Krys

I love RenFest. My faves are the mead and jousting.

If i were to try out, it would be one of those drunk peasants that run arround begging. I love them! It would be very easy audition for it. I would just act like my silly self and slur all my words. I don't think I could be the hoity toity type.

Tori Lennox said...

I love RenFests!!! When I lived in Austin, my friends and I used to always go to the Texas Renaissance Festival every Fall. So. Much. Fun. We even dressed up one year. I had this gorgeous gown made. But what I really wanted to go with it was a Three Musketeers style hat complete with swooping white ostrich feather. Which I guess means I wanted to be one of the snooty nobles. LOL!

I still have the gown and all the accessories I bought. Too bad I don't fit in it anymore. *g*

Chris Behrens said...

BJ and Tori,

Isn't it just so much fun? I don't know about you two, but I can really feel like I'm somewhere else when I'm there. The RenFest here kind of frowns on characters dressing up like mythological creatures, although this year they did have a tree-man and a few others. Dressing up is also a big part of the fun!

Sisters-in-Sync said...


I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to the RenFest. I've always wanted to go, but never seem to get around to it. It sounds like a blast...maybe next year.

If I were to dress up, I think I would be right beside B.J. It would be fun to be rude and have it be acceptable.

The chess match and the jousting sound like great entertainment! Remind me next year so maybe I can finally attend.

Thanks for sharing your experience,
SIS Bren

Chris Behrens said...


Nothing to be ashamed of, and you have a year to prepare (as do I). Wendy and I and you and your family are going. Period. End of story. Huzzah and well met and all that. Costumes are optional, but if you don't dress up I'll probably embarrass you once we're there. Luckily there will be no fishnets or zippers to worry about.

Alyson Reuben said...

Who would I be if I could go to a Renfest? Duh, I would be the queen of course! Heh heh. You better believe I'd put a totally different spin on the character, too.

Seriously, I've never been to one, but a friend of mine went with her husband and they both absolutely loved it. They especially loved watching the horseback jousting.

SIS Barb said...

Hi Chris,

I've never been either, but on our way to Indiana this weekend, we passed the site where it is held. I'm going this summer! Especially after reading your post. Well done, Sir.

Beth Ciotta said...


Loved your post Krys and I LOVE Renn Faires. I've been to several and I've almost always dressed up. May I just say that you have PERFECTLY descibed any Renn Faire/Fest I've ever attended and I agree, it's like stepping back in time. The human chess match and, of course, jousting, are two faves of mine. I also like the shows that feature street performers: Sword swallowers, jugglers, impromtu acting. Ooh. Did you mention the mud pit?

Love the food. Faves? Soup in a bowl of bread and the humongous, juicy turkey legs, and, like BJ, the mead!

Adore the celtic music and all the celtic, medieval, and Renn artistry. It's super hard NOT to shop.

Well, dang. Now I'm jonesing to go again. It's been a couple of years.

I used to think about auditioning for one of the main characters at the Pennsylvania Renn Faire, which is huge, but, it would mean the whole summer away from home, and I don't think it pays all that well. Still, if I were to audition, I would want to be the female cast member who's got a bit of spunk to her, the one who's tom-boyish and cocky and gets into sword fights. Heh.

SIS Beth

Chris Behrens said...

Alyson - Then you simply -must- go, Milady, and I'd love to see what kind of spin you'd put on the Queen! Take pictures!

Barb - Thanks, and you have to let me know when you go and what you thought...One trip and you're hooked. Take pictures, too!

Beth - I was going to mention the mud pit but I didn't want to take up any more blog room! Bread bowls and turkey legs are the -best-. And you too must go again. I knew someone several years ago that played a swordswoman and participated in the chess match. I think I can see you in that role!

SIS BJ said...


I agree that it is like stepping back in time. Next time I go I would love to dress in costume.

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