Since the days of yore (at least two decades), my sons and I have enjoyed going to renaissance faires.
Living in Indiana for many years, we traveled to faires in Michigan, or Bristol, Wisconsin — an event with permanent structures that runs all summer long.
Inevitably, I would end up buying my boys things I probably shouldn’t have purchased, like swords and knives. One son wanted a kilt, and they all learned how to handle medieval weapons like spears, joining in the “training” with experienced knights.
This year, on Mother’s Day, my youngest and his family and I traveled to Waxahachie for the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. It runs weekends through Memorial Day, set up with permanent structures on 35 acres a short distance west of I-35E.
My daughter-in-law dressed in Viking attire; her mother wore brocade and a jeweled crown. Me? I sported a blue tie-dye fedora, a slightly renaissance style shirt and slacks.
My son carried a large wooden ax. Many people wore costumes from centuries past, while others came in shorts and T-shirts. The choice of clothes didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the day.
A key attraction of renaissance faires is the general craziness. It is possible to completely lose oneself in the atmosphere, enjoying the vendors and their handmade crafts, shooting a longbow at a target, or throwing knives. Multiple stages feature music, storytellers, acrobats and other performers. There’s even a mermaid pond at Scarborough.
Women dressed as gypsies wandered through the crowd doing the “gypsy sneak,” which my 2-year-old granddaughter enjoyed as peek-a-boo.
One individual at the faire was dressed in an elaborate, full-bodied, beautiful dragon costume, available for photos with those who passed. Another stood as still as a statue, only moving when someone dropped a coin in the tip basket at her feet.
Just about every hour, the “royal court” and others held a parade around the grounds, with bagpipes, drums and other music and general gaiety.
When the temperature rises, “misting stations” along the route make it possible to cool off a bit.
A petting zoo gives kids the chance to come face-to-face with animals used to sustain families of that long-gone era. Older kids and adults can ride the elephants and camels.
The Mother’s Day brunch gave families a chance to enjoy a meal together, while the faire king and queen toasted mothers, and a woman playing a dulcimer provided a background of quaint music. The mothers also received carnations, which my granddaughter then claimed for her own.
It’s a chance for mediaeval enthusiasts to break out their British accents and use “thee” and “thou” and “thy” in their speech. It’s just good, plain fun, and for those who may not have ever attended one, it’s an incredible experience.
For me, it’s a bit of family tradition, and a chance to enjoy some history without giving up the amenities of the modern world.