It's been a while since I have posted - but I wanted to share my experiences at the PA Renfaire, since A) It is faire season and B) I went yesterday!
To start with, I am your basic Renfaire newbie. Well, last year I was. Even though I had a passable costume in my closet, I opted not to wear it (more on costumes later). I wanted to scope the place out, see what it was like and get the overall feel before I trudged around in skirts and a bodice. Well, my first impression was all smiles. The place is located on the grounds of a winery, with a historic Victorian mansion being the first thing you see. The entrance way is paved, with a fountain and flowerbeds, all very pretty. Then you reach the gates. Of course, this is also where you buy your ticket and redeem your e-ticket. If you get there early enough, there will be a crowd of people, actors in period dress milling about, and a musical group entertaining the crowd. On the parapets there should be some denizens of the Shire (the name for the "village") heckling, conversing and making merry.
Once the gates open, you redeem your ticket and make way to the Globe Theater, where the Queen greets the people at the Faire and you get your introduction to the story line. From there, you can follow the storyline through the various jousts and events. Every year there is a new scenario. Last year, a courtier wanted to marry Mary Queen of Scots and Queen deemed that this particular noble man and her champion would fight. If the noble won, he got to marry Mary, if Robert Dudley won, no. The only part of the story I got to see last year was the chess match, which ended with much bad-assery from Sir Francis Walsingham. I did not get to see much more, since we got there really late last year and other debacles.
This year was fun, I got to see the story line stuff, even though I missed a good part of Human Chess. I did get the gist though and realized that they tailored the storyline to make sense even if you miss stuff. I saw two jousts, and ultimate joust was amazing, and really entertaining.
The Shire itself is set up like a little village, with shops, food, and lots to do. All the structures are permanent, wooden places or at the very least have platforms and roofs with tent canvas walls. I know a lot of faires are like this, but not all. The "privies" are (at least for the ladies) are actual flushing toilets and running water sinks, not porta-potties. Which is wonderful, because really? That would suck. And they all have attendants with parfume, lotion, sunscreen and other nice stuff, plus they always smell nice and are decorated with dried flowers and herbs. For food you have a large variety, from cheese steaks (hey, this IS pretty close to Philly), to Turkey legs (which are DELICIOUS), Italian, Spanish, Tradition Irish and for the adventurous - Scotch Eggs, which are eggs that are wrapped in a meat/sausage mixture and deep fried and served with chips. I have never had one, but I am assured they are quite good. I liked the chips though :D There are also people wandering around with carts selling snacks like popcorn, pretzels, pickles on sticks, ice-cream and the like.
For Drink - the BEST part. There are three places set up as "Swashbuckler's Pour Stations" (The Brewery is called "Swashbuckler's Brewing Co.)As this event does take place at a Winery and Brewery, the alcoholic selections are of course amazing. I usually get the Honeyed Mead, which is sweet with a little alcoholic kick. At Baccus' Wine Tasting, I tried a few different ones (for free!) and came home with 2 bottles of the Apple and Spice. My Fiancee had the Captain Rude's stout, which will really put hair on your chest - it's VERY stout. As far as non-alcoholic beverages, there are of course options. We decided on arrival (as we were REALLY thirsty after a long drive)to get the tin commemorative cups, which are really nice, and you got a free refill and 2.00 for every other one. The soda choices are cola, birch beer, root beer, cream, and orange. Plus a diet cola. All the non diet options are 100% pure cane sugar. I love the birch beer and root beer. You also have the option of getting a really big blue bottle with a neat old fashioned flippy lock-top for 10 bucks. This also gets you 2.00 refills.
The shopping as always is the best part, right after the booze. At least for me, cuz I wouldn't be a card carrying shopaholic otherwise. hehe. There is SO much to buy, you could really go broke. I like going to the Pirate Ship of course, to get sharp pointy things, and the main shopping drag of Guildman's way. My fave is along Privy Lane, which tends to have some really nice hand made items. This year I got a cool gargoyle necklace and (finally) a corset :D I really love the quality and selection you get, a lot of items are handmade with love and care. Plus, you can't find these items online or in a regular store front. Truly unique :D
That all said, the faire is a really fabulous time! Just make sure you get there early, and stay the whole day, figure out what you want to see, but don't keep yourself tied to a schedule, because along the way you never know what you will find!
My next entry will be all about Faire Fashion!