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Friday, May 10, 2013

How to be Awesome at Renaissance Faires

I don't know if you know this, but I am a nerd.

Yeah, you probably figured it out by now.

Anyway, as a nerd family, we look forward every year to attending the Georgia Renaissance Festival.  In costumes.  Homemade costumes.  With weapons.

Well, Brian has weapons.  I have a parasol.  But it can be lethal!  Just ask anyone who walked beside me for two seconds when I wasn't paying attention.  Or ask Brian.

Here we are, along with our little Cricket, at the Renaissance Festival in April.

She was a baby dragon.  I know.  So freakin' cute it hurts.  I know.

Renaissance Festivals, or "Ren Fests" as they're known to people on the inside (and people who have trouble typing and/or spelling 'Renaissance'), are just like sporting events, concerts, or really any recreational activity in that there are three types of people who attend:

1)  People who enjoy it.

2)  People who really love it.

3)  People who make tankards out of real animal skulls to hang on their belt as an accessory.

We fall somewhere in that middle category.

However, I know there may be people out there who are curious, and might want to try it out, but might be a little intimidated not knowing what it's like, so I put together a handy list to help you get started.

1)  Go in costume.

My ranger costume.  Brian made it for me.

This is a must to truly be awesome.  Yes, you can enjoy the festival in your jeans and tank top, but you won't really feel like a part of it unless you're wearing the right clothes.  When you meet the king and queen, how are you going to say, "Good day, Your Highness," and curtsy/bow without feeling stupid unless your dressed the part?  Plus, there aren't enough chances for adults to play dress up, so when it's actually encouraged, go for it!

The Georgia Renaissance Festival actually has a place right outside the main gate where you can rent costumes for a day.  We did this the first time we came.  They cost ye pretty royal penny, but it's easier than assembling your own outfit.  Plus, that first time we went, it was raining, so at the end of the day, we got to leave our wet, muddy clothes there and drive home in dry ones!  Win!

2)  Eat the Food

Steak on a stake and corn dipped in butter.  Yes.

Yes, it's expensive.  No, it's not healthy.  But it's fun, and gnawing on a turkey leg the size of my baby makes me feel like Friar Tuck, and that is awesome.

3)  Interact

The Black Knight, giving autographs.

If you're like me, getting into character always feels a little weird, but go for it anyway!  Curtsy/bow to others dressed in costume, especially kids.  They love that.  Most of all, interact with the cast members.  That's what they're paid for, and they're really good at it.  One guy, an Arab trader character, had us in stitches within thirty seconds of saying hello.  Once, we chatted with DaVinci and he gave us directions.  These guys are professionals, and they're worth talking to.  The more you get into it, the more they will.

4)  Go to the Shows

Who doesn't want to see a half-naked man sling a ball
into a bucket on his head while riding a unicycle?
Nobody doesn't.  That's who.
Most Ren Fests have at least some performances, and they're usually worth seeing.  Some more than others, granted, but even the so-so ones are worth it usually for the laughs.  There are some impressive acrobats, hilarious comedians, and crazy people who will cover themselves in mud or light themselves on fire, just to get an audience.  Worth it.

5)  Be Prepared

Hat, pouches, bag, and comfy shoes.
Take water, sunscreen, comfortable shoes (even if they don't go with your costume), bug spray, extra money (you'll need it) and something to shade you from the sun, like a hat, a parasol, a bandanna, or whatever.  You also might need a blanket to sit on when you get tired, snacks if you don't want to buy what they're selling (but see above), a fan if it gets hot, and something to carry what you buy.  And you will buy things.  Oh, and you'll need a camera.  Definitely bring a camera.  Someone needs to see a picture of you wearing a bustier and/or a kilt.

Most costumes don't have pockets, (ask me how I know) so you'll need something to hold your money, credit card (yes, they take those), camera, etc.  Work it into your costume.  A leather pouch on your belt or a pretty purse that matches your dress work really well.

Most importantly, have fun.  Watch people.  Learn something new from a demonstrator.  Try something you've never tried before.  You'll catch the bug, and soon, you'll be wearing elf ears and quaffing mead with the rest of us!  Huzzah!

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