My First Renaissance Faire

IMG_5660Last weekend my husband and I drove upstate for a little getaway.  We planned to hike in Harriman State Park on Saturday and then just hang out and do suburban things like eat dinner at restaurants in strip malls (we call this Suburban Date Night, but I guess most of the rest of the U.S. calls it Going Out to Dinner). When we checked into our hotel—a Residence Inn in Saddle River, NJ—there was a sign at the front desk advertising the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY. We looked at each other and said, “obviously we have to go.”

My husband went to a couple Ren Faires as a kid, but I’d never been to one before. I got really excited about going, and though the original point of our weekend was to go hiking—which we did, and had a lovely time—it became much more about the Ren Faire (or as Ted Mosby calls it, Re-NAY-ssance Faire) for me.

We got up on Sunday morning and had breakfast at the Majestic Diner in Ramsey, NJ (not to be confused with the 24/7 crazypants Majestic Diner in Atlanta, GA) before heading over the state line and up to Tuxedo, NY.  Coincidentally I had brought my Lipstick Queen lipstick in Medieval on the trip, so even though I was not properly attired in Renaissance-era garb, my lips were appropriately outfitted for the period.  😛

We arrived at 10:15am, only fifteen minutes after the faire opened for the day, but the parking lot was already filling up fast. We began by roaming the roads lined with shops selling all kinds of wares from medieval apparel to flower crowns (so many flower crowns!) to jewelry to incenses and skin care products. It’s basically hippie heaven. Many of the artisans do demonstrations at their shops—candle carving, glassblowing, blacksmithing, pewter sculpting, etc. It’s refreshing to see wares being crafted right before your eyes.

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Something that kept popping up at a bunch of the shops (shoppes?) were “lotion candles,” which I would have thought were super weird had I not recently seen Hello Natural’s recent post about DIY massage candles. These are candles made with soy wax and essential oils, and the melted wax is cool enough that you can dip your fingers in it and rub it into your skin. Seriously.

We were amazed at the size of the faire and by the fact that the organizers seem to have purchased a plot of land and built permanent structures there. I was also surprised to find out that the NY Ren Faire  runs every weekend from August 1 to September 27—I had thought these things were single-weekend affairs. I guess it made the most sense for them to put up actual buildings there instead of tents:

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It’s like an actual medieval town (not that I’d know from firsthand experience)!

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Map of the Ren Faire grounds:

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The Ren Faire has a ton of food vendors, including Steak on a Stake (also, Cheesecake on a Stick):

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And of course, a place where you can buy giant turkey legs:

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I suppose Ren Faires have evolved over the years to provide food for every taste; they now have regular non-medieval carnival food: falafel, quesadillas, pizza, nachos, basically anything you can think of. Organizers must have realized that not every attendee wants to gnaw a giant piece of meat off a bone. They also sold specialty coffees, “royal thirst quencher” (aka Gatorade) and of course, lots and lots of ale.

We really didn’t have an agenda, so we just wandered and took in the sights and sounds. We tried our hand at some archery, which was $5 for nine arrows per person, and let’s just say I won’t be taking over bow and arrow duties when the zombie apocalypse comes.

We saw a little girl enjoying a camel ride:

We stopped to listen to a band called Wolgemut playing at the Blue Boar Pub:

We found a creepy sea serpent lurking in one of the lakes:

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The Ren Faire is chock full of entertainment; there are at least one or two shows going on at any given time throughout the day. We took in a Sky Kings Falconry show that featured some beautiful birds of prey:

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At the end of the show my husband handed a donation to a raven who took the bill in her beak and placed it in the donation box.

We stopped to listen to some excellent insults at Rotten Revenge, a booth where attendees pay to hurl tomatoes at a guy who hurls zingers right back:

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We even got to see the Queen (not pictured below) pass by. “Make way for the Queen!”

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Back to the Blue Boar for a drink:

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Mead for me, black and tan for my husband. Cheers!

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We checked out the Royal Chess Match, which was not actually chess; it was stage fighting that drew quite a crowd:

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My husband tried knife throwing, and let’s just say he won’t be taking over knife throwing duties when the zombie apocalypse comes. I didn’t even try the knife throwing because I figured it might end with the loss of someone’s eye.

We got to see a may pole dance, which took me back to my high school’s May Day tradition in which all the senior class’s girls wore white dresses and weaved ribbons around a may pole.

We watched an archery tournament:

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And stuck around to see the beginning of the jousting tournament:

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After a solid four hours of absorbing SO MUCH Ren Faire we were ready to head back to our hotel, but not before I tried and failed to take the sword out of the stone:

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I’m totally cool with not being anointed the new leader of the realm.

Of course, on the way out I had to pick out a souvenir to add to my shot glass collection:

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All in all, I’d call my very first Ren Faire a solid success. Definitely worth the $22 entry fee per person. HUZZAH!

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