For some reason, I have always been in love with the English Monarchy and Henry the Eighths reign. I think that is why I love going to the Renaissance Festival each year. It’s located a short distance from me in Shakopee. This year, my husband and I decided to change things up a little. We got a sitter for the kids and each took one of our parents.
We have brought the kids for the past couple years and really wanted a break from ‘dragging’ the stroller this time. When I say drag, I mean it to. The terrain there is not stroller friendly. It had been raining the 2 days prior so everything today was muddy. We also found that the break from the rain brought out the crowds too. There were more people than I had ever seen there before. The crowds were making us feel antsy being there, I couldn’t imagine having the kids as well.
I like to think of it as an Island of Renaissance because in just about every direction there are giant mining holes in the ground or what people at the festival call, the moat building. For all those that don’t want to walk through the hmm dried up Moat, feel free to take the shuttle. Either way, there is a lot of fun that awaits you inside.
Dressing the part, completely your choice. I have the clothes but have never had the courage to go dressed up. I think if I could convince my husband to, I totally would. I just don’t want to be the only one wearing it. I’ve seen a lot of good looks out there and some not so good looks. In an effort to not get picked on too much, my husband and I stuck with plain earth tones, to try and blend in. We learned this when my sister decided to go there with a hoodie one year that says ‘Freak’ on the back. She soon regretted it. Now, if you want the attention, by all means, go for it. Try dying your hair blue first too and see what happens. 🙂
Since my husband and I were both bringing out parents we ended up just meeting there. My dad and I are all about the shows. We started off with The Danger Committee. They are always good and since it was the first show of the day we got to see more of their setup. With all the rain the day before it made for a few more slip-ups than normal. Thankfully no one got hurt. They put on a good balance of juggling, knife throwing, fire, and whips. Defiantly worth getting our butts wet on the seats for.
I’m not sure what it is about all the new technology, but leave your tablets at home people. I know that it’s super cool to be able to take a video on it, but do you realize how ridiculous you look?
After the show, we worked our way over to my husband and mother-in-law. She had not been to the festival in a good 15 or more years. She remembers it was before they had buildings there, just tents setup. We ran into the King and Queen on the way over which was kinda fun since I’ve never seen them wandering around before. We tried to get a quick picture without seeming too obvious or getting in trouble by their guard. Ok, I don’t think we would have gotten in trouble, but I’m not sure how serious they take things in the make belief land.
We made our way to the other end of the festival dodging the many mud puddles. We finally found them at the Johnny Phoenix show. Now if you’ve seen him before, you know they have a lot of innuendo in the show. So I decided it would probably be more fun to watch my mother-in-law and see what she would think. I could see the smirk building. And after a few minutes, they broke her. It was a full on laughing at the jokes. It was then she realized why we didn’t want to bring the kids. While I’m sure they wouldn’t have gotten the jokes, they would have had questions on the way home.
After seeing a few shows, we figured we should probably get something to eat. When I first started to go to the Ren Fest, food was always a nightmare…. Their specialty is always the Turkey Leg and I was a vegetarian at the time. Thanks to a couple pregnancies later, I have now embraced the carnivorous lifestyle everywhere, but here… If you take a look at the lines, the Turkey Leg is probably about a 15-30 minute wait. Anything that included veggies in the title, you could walk right up. I think I may have out eaten my husband this time.
The same would go for the Beer and Wine lines vs the Soda lines. I was smart and got my wine during a show early in the day. It was not worth it by the time the lunch hour hits. And if you’re thinking it’s just the lunch hour that causes the lines, you would be wrong. They were still just as long at 3pm. We have never experienced lines like these before. We managed to go on a day where the weather was perfect and it’s was Irish Themed. Both things I love, so do the rest of the Twin Cities. It was a fluke.
It was about this time, that my husband and mother-in-law decided that they wanted to do some shopping. My dad and I wanted to get in a few more shows first. We found a new one, MooNiE the Magnif’Cent. He essentially is just miming everything, but it really entertaining. It helps when you get some good crowd participation. He did talk a little at the end. The thing I loved about it, was at the end, he said that if you can spare a couple dollars that’s great. If not, that’s ok too. It seemed so sincere. Most of the entertainers do their pitch and try to throw a little guilt on you too. His guilt-free method worked on me and I went out of my way to tip this guy. They make their living off of these shows and I’m not sure if they make money in addition to their tips or not.
Knowing how the shows work, we made sure to get to the Washing Well Wenches show at least 5 minutes early. I personally feel that some of their best entertainment is when they try to build the crowd. They did not disappoint. We decided to sit in row 5. It was not our best decision. There warm up happened mostly behind us, so we had to strain our necks to see it. My dad was wearing a bright red shirt, so he got called out early on and got to participate from the audience a little. Without giving it all away he decided to tell them that they did not do a good enough job cleaning the sample they showed him. They rewashed in front of everyone a let him inspect their work. The crowd in front of him parted along with myself as they hurdled the wet garment at him. They should also put a warning out to everyone that those seats are also a slash zone. Not quite splash as in the kind at Seaworld, but the kind where they sprinkle water at the crowd. Depending on your phone’s sensitivity to water, you might want to watch out.
While my Dad and I were being entertained, my husband was off buying cigars and shopping. He managed to buy gifts for the kids and a nice hair clip for me. It was waiting for me when I got home. Looking back at it, I can’t believe that he went shopping by himself. This is the same guy that I have to drag to the mall to buy some new sox. Maybe the RenFest changes you. Men… be warned of this effect.
With the crowds as crazy as they were and us having so much fun at the shows, we didn’t even make it to the realm that’s devoted to kids activities. That includes the games, the ferries wing forest, and mermaid cove. We didn’t get to see the joist tournament or really much of the Irish themed things. But we did stumble onto the King and Queen knighting ceremony. It’s just for kids but it’s going to be something we will definitely check out when we bring them next time. I couldn’t believe that we saw the King and Queen twice in one visit. Ok… kinda nearding out.
For anyone interested in going still this year, the Festival started over Labor Day weekend and goes until October 4th. You can usually find good deals on tickets all over the place. I don’t ever recommend paying full price at the door. Everyone is welcome, even your K9 friends.
Lessons Learned Over Time:
Getting there when the gates open sounds great until you realize that most of the food vendors and stage performances are not open yet. Getting there an hour after gates open, and you fight the crowds. Try and find a happy middle ground because I haven’t figured it out yet.
Just as a heads up… they are still around this year. Every time we go, we hear the story, this is their last year. They are being forced to move. It’s not the case. From what I have read, it will not be until 2017 before they will be forced to relocate. The good news is they are planning on staying close to the cities if possible.
Seeing as though once you get past the front gates, you have just traveled back in time, they don’t accept plastic at food stands. They do have plenty of ATMs there for you if you need more cash. Most non-food merchants will take a credit card.
If you are bringing kids with you and don’t want to get haggled… either buy or bring them Fairy Wings and/or a Sword immediately.
If you like to go once a year, try to rotate the shows if possible. Otherwise, you’ll basically see something similar each time, with a slight variation based on the crowd participation. And oh yeah, never volunteer for anything there. Unless you want to humiliate yourself! 🙂