When I wanted to attend a new festival, I had so many options to choose from and not enough at the same time. I began my festival search a little late into my 30-Before-30 challenge and I found myself with a million festivals that I wanted to experience and a year in which to wait for them. That’s right, most of the festivals I envisioned going to had already passed by the time I started looking. Apparently, the prime season is the summer and there aren’t many in winter and spring. I thought about revisiting one I’ve already been to, but I figured that would be cheating myself out of what I set out to do which was find a new one to enjoy.
So I kept looking.
With my aunt coming out from Boston, I searched for fun things to do with her and wouldn’t you know it, but the very weekend she was here was the opening weekend of the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire. A few emails back and forth to make sure everyone was interested and I purchased the tickets and eagerly counted down until the big day when my mom, aunt, and I would visit our first renaissance faire together.
We drove down to the Santa Fe Dam in Irwindale and made our way toward the entrance. Everywhere we looked, cars and people were properly attired in renaissance garb. There was a truck made to look like a pirate ship, ladies in corsets that pushed their boobs up to such incredible heights I wondered if some of them had removed their nipples, and plenty of men in tights.
Having never partaken in the faire life, I was blown way by how dedicated people were to living it up. It was an incredibly hot and windy day, but people were rocking bustles, furs, and leather like nobody’s business. Children looked adorable in their miniature outfits and I felt a little out-of-place in jeans and sandals. And the really cool thing was that the costumes weren’t limited to just the Renaissance period. There were plenty of The Lord of the Rings characters, Roman soldiers, faeries, and even a William Wallace (you know, from Braveheart). It was amazing.
Though I didn’t end up buying any of the merchandise available, the handicrafts were spectacular. There were also braiding booths for fair maidens to get intricate hair art from skilled stylists. I was a little let down by the festival food since it seemed fairly similar to a typical county fair’s selection, but I loved the attractions like the knife throwing, giant swing, and other medieval forms of amusement.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the size of the event. It was huge! Several stages showcased performers from musicians to hypnotists to a whip demonstration. Yes, a whip demonstration. Exotic animals were paraded around the grounds from a wolf to a laughing cuckabara. Arts and crafts stations were set up for weaving or building your own fairy house. There was something for everyone.
All in all, the faire was everything that I expected it to be and nothing like I expected it to be. There were a lot of drunkards sloshing their ale around and a lot of scantily clad women. People didn’t take it quite as seriously as I was expecting, but I could easily see myself drinking the Kool-Aid, as could my mom. My aunt gladly do-si-doed with the crowds and I happily accepted free hugs from complete strangers because if you’re going to attend a festival like this, you might as well dive on in, right?
In the words of the faire, “Huzzah!”