Monday, January 3, 2011

Return to the Renaissance

Wow, I see that I have already taken you on two trips to the Renaissance Festival near Jordan, Minnesota, and I haven’t told you a single thing about it. Have I ever even peaked your curiosity?

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is one of the largest and oldest such festivals in the country, having just finished its 40th year as I write this. I tried to glean the necessary information off of their website or from brochures we have picked up over the years, but neither proved as helpful as I had hoped. I can say the grounds are on somewhere between 15 and 30 acres, depending on whether or not you count the big hay field of a parking lot. Many of the buildings are permanent to the grounds, but a fire several years ago (which I could again find no information on) burned many of them. I believe they have all been rebuilt and just these medieval facades are worth seeing.

But perhaps I should back up. Do you know what a Renaissance Festival is? It is a gathering of people who share an interest in anything medieval, from jousting to falconering to wearing kilts or tights or long flowing dresses. There is sword fighting and swashbuckling and belly dancing. There are wenches and peasants and kings and queens. There is food like you wouldn’t believe – turkey drumsticks and ciabatta turkey sandwiches and corn on the cob and lemonade and beer. Oh, and lots of big crispy pickles.

Throughout the grounds are various stages where you can watch comedians and magicians and pirates and jugglers. All over the place are vendors selling handmade crafts, from paper to dresses to paper dresses, from paintings to swords to paintings of sword. Many of the vendors offer demonstrations as they create their crafts.

Wow and then there are the animals. The horses they use in the jousting are massive Percherons and Belgians, which is a good thing because they are wearing armor themselves as well as carrying armored knights with ten foot long lances. The falcons, hawks and eagles are equally impressive, displaying their magnificent hunting skills. Then there were camel rides and elephant rides, along with a petting zoo of cute furry creatures and a non-petting zoo of wonderful creatures like pythons and crocodiles.

I don’t even think that scratched the surface. An entire area is dedicated just to younger kids to play in a huge fairy tale land all their own. One year there was this gnome walk, or something like that, where this trail through the woods and through a swamp would take you past the homes of imaginary creatures like hobbits and dwarves.

It has really been too many years since I have been there. Getting back on track with the journal of my travels, August 1999 was the first time that my husband Himey had come along with the kids and me. He had an amazingly good time. I was impressed with him. He especially liked the turkey drumstick and the fact that he didn’t get sunburned.

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