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New York Renaissance Faire – 2009 – Pirate Invasion Weekend
While sitting at home in the wonderful weather something dawned on me. I had not been to the New York Renaissance Faire since I was a teenager. Had it been that long? Now I have two kids of my own, 3 and 5, and I felt it was high time that they experience the magic of the faire. An email or two later, and I had gotten in contact with Wanda Carr, who now handles publicity for the faire. September 13th we packed the kids in the car and had some wonderful weather to look forward to while stomping the faire grounds. Oh, by the way, did I mention it was Pirate Invasion Weekend?
First, let me give you a taste of what we actually saw; you can also check out the pictures in the gallery below for some of the visuals to go along with the events. Forgive me, as our photographer could not make it to this event and my skills with the point-and-shoot are a bit lax.
For everyone who is not familiar with this faire, you have a bunch of different events spread out all over the grounds happening throughout the day. You can also follow the queen and her story throughout the day by attending all the major events, but I have never done just that. There is just so much to be seen that you have to prepare yourself; you cannot see everything in one day. So since we had to cater more to our boys than ourselves, this is what we saw at the faire this time around.
We started off at Village Puppets, where they put together a great story featuring a fox puppet and a cat. Good stuff, my boys were interested, and the puppeteers really got the kids into it. We then grabbed some lunch and went to the area where the pirates were hanging out. The boys got to go to pirate school, which was set up really nicely for them, and then got to sign up for the pirate crew. I thought that the pirate area was a great area for the little kids, and across the way they have a nice pirate fighting area where adults could fight each other with foam swords. Then it was back to Fool’s Stage to watch SPLAT!, which was based on the story of Noah’s Ark. This show was probably a bit over the kids’ heads and was just so-so for me, definitely not as entertaining as Village Puppets for the kids or the adults.
No way you can come to the faire and not see jousting, so we rushed over to the Knighting Ceremony, where my oldest got knighted and put to the pirate oath. Then came the Gaming Joust, which is the preliminary round before the Royal Joust later in the day (that started at 6 p.m., and no way would we be making it with two tired boys). I really like how they put the actors and actresses together to get each section and cheering section really amped up, plus it seems to be a pretty darn realisitic representation of what a real medieval joust would be like. It was one of my favorite events of the day, and my boys agreed.
Afterward, over to Brother Donald for some storytelling. We stayed for one great story while drinking some lemonades–this guy has a great voice and can really keep you glued to his movements while spinning a yarn. We also walked by many cool booths at the faire; you truly have to attend to see all of the things for sale. We made a quick stop at the insult booth, where my son wanted to throw tomatoes, but those guys are vicious with the barbs, and we figured it might be better to let the boys get a bit older before trying that. We all made sure we crossed the kissing bridge, and everyone got a big smooch. I was told Dextre Tripp was someone to see, so while my wife got something to drink me and the boys stayed for his Fire & Water Show. It was great, he duct-tapes 2 dynamite sticks worth of firecrackers to his chest, balances on a ladder, and lights them off. Now it is up to the audience to throw water balloons at him to drench him and hopefully keep him from getting burned. All went well, and the show will continue for another time. After we watched some people have their try at the archery booth, it was off to collect our prize for finishing the treasure map.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you about the treasure map. It was a great thing for the boys to do. They got a map and had to collect a bunch of different stickers by visiting booths at the faire that were running a pirate flag. It was a bit difficult finding the last one, but the boys got a sense of accomplishment. Then it was time for the trip home, where the boys were sleeping before we even hit the highway.
Some of the things at the faire that I had seen in years past that I did not get to make it to this year included following the Queen around. I think next year I really just have to take a day and follow the Queen’s story from beginning to end. There is something for every time of the day, barring a few quick breaks. The Sheriff or Royal Chess Match would have been nice to attend, along with some of the other headline events. We missed out on the Birds of Prey Show, Jayna Lee doing Aerial Acrobatics!, and the Wacky Chickens performing on the Sherwood Forest Stage. Also, I think the boys would have had a good time waching the Medieval Glassblowing Demo, and I would not have been upset to see Belly Dance with Karpathos. 2 Stoopid Guys also seemed like a fun show, and many other events that were on the schedule of the day looked intersting.
There are also some things that are no longer at the faire from when I was a teenager that I would be remiss not to mention. Drench a wench, where you would slingshot a sponge to hit a woman on a stage and then would get a kiss or peck on the cheek from one of them. Obviously a big draw for a teenager. Also, I asked Wanda about the Shakespeare Improv act from years past. She said they might think about bringing it back, and I would be very happy if that happened.
Ah, now on to the victuals of the Faire. When you talk New York Ren Faire you have to have a whole section dedicated to the food and drink. Before leaving to go on Sunday, even my parents were fondly reminiscent of the Faire in terms of drink. My mother was a big fan of the mead last time she went, which was sometime when I was a teenager. The main attraction, though, I believe, is the smoked turkey legs, of which we did not consume any of this time around. I think we were so overwhelmed with how much the faire had to show us that food became less of a priority. We sampled a fruit and cheese platter with grapes the size of tomatoes, a few fruit smoothies for me and the boys, and my wife had an awesome potato pancake of which me and the boys stole some. The thing I really wanted to try were the ice cream crepes. It seems they were a big hit, because that is what I kept hearing as I walked around the faire. But by the time we were ready to go, my boys were just so tired from the day that trying to get some then would have set off a tantrum that even the Sheriff of Nottingham could not have stopped.
Overall this was probably the best bargain I have seen when it comes to entertainment value per hour. The kids loved it, me and the wife loved it, and we now realize that next year one day will not be enough. You need a few days at the faire to really see it all and enjoy what it has to offer. Not to worry, I plan on covering it all next year, and really kick myself for not attending more this year. For everyone not within driving distance of Tuxedo, New York, you can check out the other faires and hopefully find one in your area by going to the main website at http://recfair.com/. Wanda invited me to The Forest of Fear but my children are a bit young and I am a scaredy cat.
For the fellas, I want to just say this. Women in Renaissance Faire Clothing . . . sexy . . . enough said.
Please note that there are two pages of pictures.