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Let's Get Medieval!

Monday, April 8, 2013

No, this isn't a Game of Thrones post - sorry. ;)

Saturday John and I drove out to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, a massive outdoor event that opens shop for seven or eight weekends each year in Tampa.

 

There's live jousting, chess games with human chess pieces, carnival-type games that allow you to throw real throwing knives and axes, the highest per capita of corsets in the southern U.S., and lots and lots and LOTS of alcohol.
 I would say it's kind of like a convention, only with more dirt, sweat, and drunken carousing, but that really doesn't come close to capturing it. Ren Fairs are a unique phenomena all to themselves, and you kind of have to experience one for yourself.

Now, as a relatively quiet introvert who is easily embarrassed, I freely admit Ren Fairs are not my element. Everyone's so ... boisterous. There's lots of in-character shouting and challenges to duels and saucy propositions and barkers who'll call out to you and, well, interaction. With strangers. Heh.

That said, everyone's friendly and having a grand old time, and I fully realize I'm a big ol stick-in-the-mud. So even though I'm there strictly to gawk, I still have a good time from the sidelines.

The prettiest girl of the whole fair - and I'm not just saying that because she's wearing my favorite color. :) Isn't she stunning? 


I especially like the mix of attendees you get at a Ren Fair. There are equal parts hippies, goths, SCA enthusiasts, whole families, and everyday geeks and gawkers.

Stargate!


My camera failed to capture it, but that corset & skirt combo was STUNNING. The fabrics had this shimmer to them, and it was soooo pretty.

One area where Ren Fairs really shine is in the merchandise. The majority of the100 or so vendor stalls were filled with authentically handmade goods, and you could stop to watch glass blowers, glass forgers, sword smiths, leather workers, and more at their trades.



Heh. ("Honer"?)

Then there's the entertainment. There are something like 13 different stages set up around the grounds, with shows ranging from comedy to music to - I kid you not - mud wrestling. John and I have two favorites that we go to every year. Johnny Phoenix:


 Yeah, his show is kind of like that.

And the Washing Women:
These gals specialize in getting somewhat-willing men from the audience to do embarrassing things like this:

They also, well, pretty much molest the men way more than you'd think would be legal. They ripped one guy's shirt off, rubbed their hands all over another's chest and thighs, and licked this guy's bald head. A LOT. The good news (?) is the guys seem to find it hilarious, so s'all good. And when Pearl literally threw herself at this man, he not only played along, he took it further:

This culminated in a hilarious, faux-passionate kiss, followed by Pearl dumping an entire bucket of water over her own head. I honestly can't say if this show is a triumph or a blow to feminism, but DANG is it funny.

There's also plenty of more family-friendly fare, like this sword-fighting class that reminded me of the Pirate and Jedi academies at Disney:


And finally, there are the "street" performers: buskers who set out to amuse or amaze:

 
This statue guy is there every year. He looks pretty scary, but is surprisingly awesome with kids.

I think this contact juggler might be new:

 

Oh! And there was a mermaid tank!

For a dollar (I think) she'd dive down and fetch you a glass "gem." There was a huge crowd around, so it was hard to see, but all the little girls were clearly enthralled.

She made a trilling noise instead of speaking - a cute touch.

A few more random shots:



 All of the rides - and there were several - required a fair amount of manpower. Literally. :)
 (The tattooed guy would just push the "seahorse" back and forth.)

So many amazing, handcrafted costumes. It's a shame the glaring sunlight and dappled shade made a hash of most of my photos!

On our way out we saw the Maypole Dance:

 And that's it! 

Hope you guys enjoyed your virtual visit with us!

***

Oh, and since I mentioned it last post: my anxiety was fine at the Fair itself, but we had a bad time *getting* there. The whole hour plus drive was fine, but then the line of cars getting into the parking lot was backed up for miles, and for some reason being stuck in traffic is a major trigger for me. It's not rational, of course, but if I don't have the option of movement/escape at all times, I feel trapped. So anyway, I lasted maybe 10 minutes, I think (which of course felt like 30) but eventually my heart rate zoomed, the world spun, I wished for death, etc, etc.

I know I should be grateful car trips mostly don't bother me anymore, but it stinks that the second we hit traffic I start to freak out. It also makes me despair of my life ever being "normal" again, but I know I have to cling to hope and the knowledge that tomorrow will be a better day.

Anyway, John got us out of line and we parked about a mile away so we could walk in. It turned out that was *still* faster than waiting in the car line to park. We'll be remembering that for next year! Plus the walk was good for me to get my breathing and wobbly legs back under control.

We all have our broken bits, I know. I only mention this stuff to remind my fellow anxiety-sufferers out there that you're not alone, and you never will be. If nothing else, we can always be a little bit broken together. :)

Posted by Jen at 1:53 PM Labels: ,

92 comments:

  1. Oh! Loved the photo of the Medieval Aquaman armour!
    It has "King of Atlantis - Ruler of the Seven Seas" in runes around the collar. There's a Medieval Batman to go with, too, by the same armourer.

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  2. A couple of things.
    First, I LOVED the Stargate group! It was like they'd gone through the gate to another world. Good one.
    Second, I've been to one Ren Faire, many years ago, and saw the Washer Women (or their clones...) up here in Ohio. LOL
    Third, I understand and empathize with the anxiety issues. Mine just gets worse with age. I don't go to new places alone, and alone is what I am most of the time. The sheer number of things that I've missed because of the terror is phenomenal. Kudos to you for working through the anxiety and making it to the Faire despite of it!

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  3. I'm so glad that you talk about your anxiety. I've only recently (as in the last two weeks) been diagnosed with anxiety and started a med to try to get it under control. I've had it my whole life, but my family just called it me having one of "my moods" (and telling me to snap out of it) and it wasn't discovered until talking with a therapist. Luckily, my husband is a lot more supportive and was the one who encouraged me to talk about these episodes with the therapist (he thought I kept having panic attacks). Here's to not freaking out because I can't find the taco seasoning (yeah, it was a really bad day).

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  4. Thanks for sharing again about your anxiety. I've read basically everything you've written here about it, and have really appreciated your candor. I have had a phobia about needles since my pre-kindergarten vaccinations. As In my teens, I got a handle on it, but as I got into my thirties, it came back with a vengeance. There's just nothing that makes you feel good about yourself about having to have someone take you to the lab for a routine blood draw because you cry hysterically, or (my personal favorite) weep silently but uncontrollably before, during, and after the stick. Which totally doesn't hurt, I know.
    I almost think explaining it was worse. I know where it came from, but given that phobias are irrational, I couldn't explain it away.
    This is a lot of detail to say that a few years ago, I had hypnosis therapy as a last resort when I had to take a twice-daily injectable medication for a while. I was powerfully skeptical, but it worked for me...for a while. Last week, I had to have blood drawn for a physical. I went into the lab, gave my usual disclaimer: I have a phobia, sometimes I weep, ignore me...and then I broke down. I laughed and cried as the techs did everything they could think of to make it easy on me. And then I went home and cried some more.
    Thanks for reminding us that dealing with one's anxieties is a process, and that sometimes they just get us. And we need to be kind to ourselves when they do.

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  5. I would never call you "broken". You are brave as can be for owning it, talking about it, and striving to live your life as best as you can.

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  6. The pretty girl in the yellow & orange reminds me of candy corn! Awesome.

    So glad you were able to work through/around the parking and anxiety. It looks like you had a wonderful time! I think I may need to drag my hubby to Ren Fair this year when it comes our way...

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  7. I can't WAIT for Ren faire season to start up again up here in Ohio... we have a permanent renaissance village here! You know the guy from the History Channel's Full Metal Jousting? (If you haven't seen that show, ZOMG you have to see that show!) Yeah, he jousts at our fest every year :) He's on the homepage for the Ohio festival. Seriously, check it out! http://www.renfestival.com/ The cool thing is all the shops and stages and stuff are permanent. There's a church that they hold real weddings in as well as mass vow renewals. And oh the shopping... we have to put a limit ahead of time because there are "ye olde ATM's" all over the place now and it can get seriously dangerous for one's bank account. This year, we're going full out, the whole family in costume. I figure the kidlet's outfit can double as a Link from Zelda costume come halloween time. I have a beautiful green dress to wear this year. LOVE LOVE LOVE Ren faire!

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  8. You need to come to the Faires we work down here in South Florida.
    ren-fest.com for the one that just ended & camelotdays.com for the one in November. A lot of the people at BARF are at FlaRF too.

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    1. I forgot to add Johnny Phoenix comes to Camelot Days.

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  9. Stargate cosplay FTW!

    I live on the prairies. I did grow up on the coast, but sometime in the last 15 years of living in the flatlands, I have developed a completely irrational fear of rolling backwards when we drive up large hills, especially when there are large bodies of water at the bottom of said hills. We visited Seattle last summer... NEVER AGAIN. That was the first time I've ever had a panic attack, and it was a mild one. I certainly won't be visiting Seattle again any time soon.

    So good for you for trying and pushing through it... Never give up, never surrender! :)

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  10. Those are the
    Washing Well Wenches! they are a must-see for me each year at the TN Ren Faire. They are hysterical!

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  11. Great pics! Have you considered subliminal programming to help with the anxiety? Let me know, I can find you a link. I swear by subliminal programming! x

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  12. Ok, so we went to the Ren Fest, we really enjoyed it, except, all the smoking going on can be hard for little kids and their parents, if you're not into that. We didn't get stuck in traffic too bad since we went the first week, but it was starting to get pretty chaotic.
    We did love all the costumes though.
    I'm glad you got some pictures, I didn't even take my camera! And glad that your anxiety wasn't bad at the fest itself.
    have a good one. :D

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  13. I went for a couple of hours with my son and there were ren-fair DC characters. Superman, Wonder Woman and for the life of me can't recall the last one. But they were hand made costumes in ren-fest style and they were really cool. Someone dressed as Meredeth (from Brave) too. I love how people have helped it grow and branch out over the years.

    Also, typically they have auditions for volunteers to help. I have had friends participate several times and they get to dress up and run around speaking in accents, etc. (http://bayarearenaissancefest.com/)

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  14. Yay!! Now I'm totally jonesing for Faire. As an aside have you seen the "Thrift Shop" Ren Faire parody? It's awesome and amusing and was filmed at Bay Area Faire :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5Vo0gazKX0

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  15. Hang in there, Jen! More of us have broken bits than we know and I love that you share this about yourself as I do so others don't feel so alone in it.

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  16. Both Johnny Phoenix and the washing wench girls also come to the Minnesota Ren Fest in Shakopee, MN. So much fun both of those shows! So glad to see you had a fun time even after the stressful drive. I hope we see more of these awesome type of pictures in the future!

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  17. I've wanted to come down for this for quite some time. My sister, who lives in the TB area, keeps telling me about it. I just tend to forget about it until its over with, lol.

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  18. I think your fair and my fair, in Larkspur, CO, are exactly the same, perhaps they are owned by the same company. A lot of performers tour the country at Ren Fairs, though. Mine has the same man-powered rides, too, and only one road in to the parking lots.

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  19. I have GOT to get back to a ren fair one of these days! thanks for the reminder~

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  20. I have the exact same traffic trigger! I've always thought it was incredibly weird and had a hard time explaining it so end up telling people I can't make it to [insert event] because I get carsick, rather than that I know there is a particularly horrible on ramp that gets backed up all the time along our route. I'd always rather walk for half an hour than be stuck in a car going nowhere for five minutes. I'm oddly happy to find out that other people feel like that too. :\

    The Ren festival looked amazing - glad you were able to enjoy it. :)

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  21. Wow! Just beautiful and you had a great day for it too!

    As to the anxiety...well hun, you're human. The fact that you share your "imperfections" with us makes me respect you all the more. And John too, for being the wonderful and loving husband that he is! *HUGS to BOTH of you*

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  22. Jen, Thanks for the virtual ren faire. I really enjoy them also, but have decided to take a break from them.

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  23. In fact, our festivals are both put on by the same group. No wonder they are so similar. If you ever make it up to MN in the late summer (August/September) let us know!!

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  24. I love the Washer Women! They have been a favorite of mine for well over 10 years now, and I will always love them for making my college boyfriend run through the crowd acting like a chicken. I make a point to always see them at the Georgia Ren Fest. Thanks for sharing the great pics!

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  25. I don't know how averse you are to taking anti-depressants/anti-anxiety drugs but I cannot recommend Celexa enough. I have had anxiety issues since I was 4 years old, and for years I couldn't fly, travel, be in loud/noisy rooms, spend the night away from home or eat in restaurants without massive anxiety/panic attacks. Ever since I started taking Celexa, I finally feel normal. Seriously. Last week I flew out to Vegas for my brother's wedding and despite being exposed to almost every single one of my triggers, I didn't have a single twinge of anxiety. It was simply amazing. I seriously would hug and/or give all my money to whoever invented that drug.

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  26. I really appreciate your frankness when it comes to your struggles with anxiety. I've had my own issues with anxiety (different triggers but I completely and utterly understand the feeling of overwhelming and crippling anxiety) and it's something that doesn't get talked about in a matter-of-fact way (in my experience it's always a whispered and secretive). You're so courageous for putting yourself and your feelings out there. It makes me feel so much "normal" (if there even is such a thing) and less broken. You're a phenomenal woman.

    Also, Renn Fests are so much fun! :)

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  27. I love the Ren Faire! We are planning on going to the St Louis fair soon (been several years now) and will be visiting Scarbough for the first time in a few weeks. We have been to several all over the country but our fav so far is Bristol in Wisconsin!

    Oh and yes, we do dress up! I have made our costumes

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    1. I loooooove Bristol! My sister and I have been going for the past several years, and we go at least twice a season.

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  28. Mermaid in a tank! That makes the little girl in me clap with joy. I like Ren Faires, more open space than an indoor convention.

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    1. Storm the KlingonApril 9, 2013 at 4:55 AM

      Girl, I am telling you, if I'd seen that mermaid in a tank (or ANY of the impressive costume fins that are around now) when *I* was a little girl? I woulda lost my tiny MIND. I was obsessed with mermaids! There used to be a woman in a mermaid tail sitting on a rock in the lagoon around the Submarine Ride at Disneyland in the early 70's; I had to be physically dragged away from her or I'd stand there all day, watching her comb her hair. They're still my favourite faeryfolk.

      Cheers for mermaids! Boo for freaking out in traffic! (I HATEHATEHATE being stuck in traffic; it makes me have The Angry Kind of Anxiety Attack, which are not only the most futile, but the most exhausting)

      Storm

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  29. HUZZAH! I am a big "rennie" but not an SCA type (i think it should above all be fun who cares if it is accurate). I go to two faires one in Ohio--Great Lakes Medieval Faire and one here in Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival.

    I have gone as a fairy (multiple times), pirate, gypsy, and just generic "medival" style garb. I have been going every year for over a decade and it is the highlight of my summer!

    Johnny Phoenix and the washer wenches both play GLMF and the wenches play Pgh. My favorite show is Broon but he doesn't play every year. i also love Hack & Slash (or Danger slash if it is just one of the duo) but they have done a lot of USO tours so they are spotty in yearly attendance.

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  30. Annnd, was that a medieval Aquaman?

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  31. I LOVE THE REN FAIRE! Unfortunately, the one near me (Wisconsin) isn't until June, but you better believe I will be going! I have a list of stuff to purchase this year. I do wish I could go to the Kansas City Ren Faire, but it's too far away. It is super awesome and set in a very nice valley of sorts.

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  32. Aaaaaaah I wish I could go! This is perfect for me. I suffer with panic attacks myself, so going to conventions like Dragoncon and Comic Con is pretty much out of the question for me, which drives me CRAZY. I want to go to conventions SO BAD. Something like this, outside with fresh air, is probably the closet thing to a convention I could ever experience. But alas, I don't live close enough. Maybe one day...

    -River

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    1. Storm the KlingonApril 9, 2013 at 5:09 AM

      See, this makes me sad, and I know it happens a lot; people see the massive hordes at Comic Con and think ALL cons are like that and get freaked out. Most conventions don't even come close to the crowds of Comic Con or D*C. Please, girl, don't let it stop you from checking out one of the smaller cons in your area. A good rule of thumb; if it's a small enough con to fit in a hotel and their convention facilities, it's going to be pretty intimate, if not outright tiny. Avoid anything at a proper Convention Center!

      Smaller cons are better for making friends at, too; when there's not giant crowds, there's actually more chances to meet someone with your interests. If it helps, just keep in mind that not only are the other congoers Your Fellow Nerds, and therefore Your People, but quite a few of them have their own mental and physical issues going on as well, and would be among the last people in the world to judge you or treat you badly. Confolks is good people. :)

      Your Pal,

      Storm

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    2. Thanks for the suggestion!! I'll be sure to check around and see if there's any smaller cons nearby. It sounds great because my panic attacks aren't really triggered by big crowds, but big BUILDINGS. (Super high ceilings, multiple floors, stuff like that.) But a smaller con would probably be in an average building (instead of those mega-convention centers for Star Wars Celebration and Comic Con), so I'll look into that! :)

      -River

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    3. Yes to the smaller conventions! Some are show/theme centered so if you connect to those specific communities online you can often find a lot of convention options and quiz people about the facilities beforehand.

      And for Ren-type things, see if you have a local SCA group. They might meet weekly or run local events that you can attend.

      Or there are many Meetup groups for everything from boardgames to DoctorWho to codewriting to hiking that you can enjoy the same cool things in smaller settings. : )

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  33. I thought that was Aquaman, and then I saw this as the latest post on another blog I follow: http://mydisguises.com/2013/04/08/medieval-batman-and-aquaman-costumes/ Awesome detail!

    As far as the anxiety goes, I haven't been diagnosed with anything, nor has anyone in my family, and we ALL freak out in traffic. Traffic and super packed-in crowds are two of the worst things ever. I had my biggest panic attack ever on my honeymoon, in the middle of Times Square, when I couldn't take a step without someone running into me. So basically... I feel ya.

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  34. We have a Ren Fair out this way in the SoCal. I know two people who will be working it, one of whom showed me the cool chainmail bracelet he learned to make at one of the craft stalls. This year will be my first trip to the Ren Fair. I will not be in costume, but am looking forward to going!

    Andrea

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  35. My 3yo fairy princess went CRAZY for the mermaids! Were there fairy girls hanging out in trees? They talked to her forever... Izzy is my fave Washing Well Wench; sorry you missed her!

    Love this Ren Faire, been going since I was a preteen (mid-90s), when it was in Largo... Now I take my kids :) Even my mom and mother-in-law have a blast! Good food, great shopping, fun costumes, what's not to like?

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  36. When I started reading and saw "Bay Area Ren Faire" I thought - wait -- No, it's not until September. Then I was reminded I don't live in the only "Bay Area" in the US :D

    Great photos and a great recap of nearly any ren faire I've been to - a lot of frolicking fun!

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  37. Broken bits are ever welcome! :)

    That merman/Posiden armored guy is awesome!!!!!!!!!! Such an intricate and unique outfit!!!

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  38. Ren fest is one of my fave activities ever. I lived in Dallas as a teenager, and Scarborough Faire is amazing. Being a theater geek, I had a lot of friends that worked the faire, and always spent *months* worth of allowance on pewter dragons, flower garlands, and leather work. I also have a poison wood vampire stake that kills old-school vampires...not the Edward Cullen koind cause their kinda lame.

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  39. Oh! Pretty much my first encounter ever with a big group of nerds (what do you call a group of nerds? A nerdery?) was the Bristol Renaissance Faire on the Wisconsin/Illinois border. It was so amazing to see people enjoying the day in so many ways--dressing up and participating, or just wandering/shopping/admiring, or eating a big freaking turkey leg--I was definitely in my element. I took some non-nerd friends there last summer, and they came out having decided that next time, if they didn't dress up, their kids definitely should!

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  40. I love the Ren Faire out here in CA, but I hardly ever go mostly due to the crowd of cars. We also have a mile long wait to get into the parking lot and it triggers me as well.

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  41. I think the fact that you and John quickly come up with fitting solutions to the trigger (in this case the line of traffic) says SO MUCH about how you two work as a team to not only cope with your anxieties but to take them head on and win!

    BRAVO you two! What a wonderful example you are.

    Kind regards,
    Karla in CA.

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  42. I feel for ya! I've got some stuff coming up that is causing stress and minor moments of panic. I've not had a panic attack in years, so I'm hoping to keep it all under control. You know how that is, I'm sure. Prayers for you and me.

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  43. You are my hero. Epbot has made my world a funner, happier, geekier and all-around more awesome place since it started (and that's sayin' somethin' because I fulfilled my life's dream of starting a family and had three babies since then).

    Thank you for being you and for sharing that with the rest of us.

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  44. My high school friends and I started a tradition after we went off to college to go back home to the Great Lakes Medieval Faire for one weekend during the summer. Johnny Pheonix and the Washing Well Wenches are always there (at least for the past 3 years). We love it! I took my dad for the first time last year--and found out that my dad used to take my mom to Ren Faires when they were dating. Ren Faires are some of the few places at which singalongs about classic literature are encouraged, people are genuine (yet playing a role), and the "lump on the log" is always chosen to lead the entertainment, thereby ceasing to be a "lump on the log". For the drive, instead of thinking about the crowds and traffic jam, we instead appreciate the hilarity of tough bikers in tights (with occasional references to Mel Brooks movies and Princess Bride). We once saw a Delorean during the drive. I know anxiety must be rough.

    Also--that's some great Stargate cosplay! It is definitely underrepresented.

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  45. I found a new trigger when I went with my parents to look at puppies. Because, Hey! Puppies! Then I found out that they invited a carload of people and I ended up in the way back of an suv without a door to get out of. It wasn't pretty when we were parked and they wouldn't let me out.

    I won't tell you my other major trigger because I don't want to give you a new one.

    Up here in New England we a a major ren faire called King Richard's Faire. I think it has descended into a giant boobs in inadequate coresets contest in the last fow years, but the vendors are still great.

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  46. I am such a Ren Faire nerd, and always look forward to the Bristol Ren Faire up on the IL/WI border every summer. My sister took me once a few years ago, and I was HOOKED! We have to go at least twice every season just to fit in everything that we want to do. Some of the shows we always have to see are Adam Crack (whips/firewhip), Tartanic (a bagpipe and drums band), the Robin Hood story (little scenes around the faire with a big fight scene at the end), and the jousting. They've never had a mermaid, but I think that would be so fun. Last year they had a person performing on aerial silks, and it was such a fantastic show. I always bring a few dollar coins for tipping for my favorite performers. Last year we went to Steampunk weekend, and the costumes were just amazing. We are already planning to go to the one this year.

    I always dress up, since I feel like that's half the fun of going. I get such a kick out of just walking around and interacting with the street actors (even if I'm not the most skilled conversationalist...). I don't use period speak, and go between putting on an accent and just talking normally.

    You can definitely make a dent in your wallet with all the amazing stuff for sale. Since I'm unemployed, I usually just look and dream about what I would buy if I could buy anything I wanted. My sister was asking what I wanted for my birthday at the end of the month, but I told her that I'm saving my birthday present for the Ren Faire. :-D

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  47. Oh sweetie, you're not broken. You...are. Just as much as anybody else is. :)

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  48. Your fairs seems a lot like the one we have here in Maryland; it's the second largest in the country and runs August-September. I agree, Renn fest is a different atmosphere but its so much fun. I love the shows and we have jousting tournaments. (of course because jousting is Maryland's state sport!).

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  49. I haven't been to a Renn Fair for about 20 years. I went to the Bay Area (San Francisco Bay Area) renn faire in Jr. High and loved it. It seems like Renn Faires are branching out a bit from what I remember, but the atmosphere looks just as fun!

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  50. I went to the Ren Faire in Arizona last March by myself (a fairly big deal!) when my friend wasn't able to go at the last minute. I caught a show by a woman who did hilarious bawdy songs, aaaaand... guess who she pointed at first when it came time for the audience call-back bit?

    Yeah, I froze right up. Everyone was staring. Total nightmare. >_<; Not her fault of course, but oh man, that was rough.

    I do love Ren Faires, though!

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    1. The first time I went to a Ren Faire was when I was visiting Arizona. I felt astonished when I walked in that place. It's huge! The closest ren faires to home I hear about are in Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. And timing is always when I have a busy work week. :(

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  51. I don't have anxiety, but one thing that helps me get less antsy waiting in a huge line to the parking lot is to get out and walk along the side of the road (provided it's not a major highway and traffic is very slow). Sometimes you get the added entertainment of outpacing your driver, which is always funny.

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  52. The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is part of my childhood for sure! I've been going since I was about 8-9 years old, back when it was Largo under the giant oak trees. It's something of a family tradition now, I'm pleased to say. I was planning to be there Saturday but couldn't make it till Sunday the last day of the faire. I attend every year and have a great time, despite my social anxiety. I got way more anxiety from the drive over(I don't drive and our driver this time wasn't my favorite) than I did at the actual faire so that part I can definitely understand; we waited to get to the parking for a good 20 minutes!

    In a weird kind of way I have a much better time when I'm in costume, I get to leave almost all of my anxiety behind and become someone else for a day. The biggest problem for me is not buying everything! I hope you can come back next year, I recommend going early in the morning if possible as there is very little line to get in and better parking then. If you do go you have check out Midsummer Knight Dream puppets (they ride on your shoulder and can actually move their heads!) and Tony Kassebaum's jewelry, I always come home with at least one new piece from him. I always save up for the ren fest each year because there is always at least 100 things I want to buy there that you just can't get anywhere else.

    I'm not sure how you feel about posting photos here but I hope posting this one is ok. I'm quite proud to have gotten a photo with the king this year!

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  53. I am getting on my "Costume History Major" soapbox - 1) there was NO Rennaissnce in England. 100 Yrs War folks. 2) your first picture was of ELIZABETHAN costumes, lovely but 100 years after the Italian Reniassance. 3) please call them "Historical Faires" as time period acturacy is not a factor here. Again, lovely costumes, well made, fun but not Reniassance. Off soap box. And do NOT get me started on "Civil War" re-enactor ladies!

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  54. Traffic is my biggest trigger. And my anxiety directly correlates to my IBS. So stuck in traffic, here comes IBS symptoms, and then everything is hell. Wheee!!!

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  55. The glass jester has been there for a couple years now but he took a few years off. When I first went to the Ren Faire about 7 or 8 years ago he was there and was really sweet. We talked to him for like an hour or more. The Ren Faire is great fun and I'm sad I've missed it the last few years, skipping it because of money usually. But it's a grand old time, really fun while you're tipsy.

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  56. That looks like a great Faire! They have a great one in Georgia that I enjoyed while I was there, but I'm back in my home state of Virginia now and ours is pretty dinky. I'm hoping it gets bigger and better and looking for a really good one in the meantime. I've heard there's a good one in Maryland.

    On the subject of interacting with strangers at Faires my experience has been that, unlike Conventions, people tend to interact with you less if you're in a good costume. I think it's because all of the performers are looking for "newbs" that are fun to play and make a scene with. That's just my experience though.

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  57. We love the renfaire here in GA; try to make it every year. Our favorite is Ded Bob, but I checked his site (http://www.dedbob.com/main.htm) and it seems he does not visit your fair in FL. However, I do encourage anyone who visits the one in GA to check him and sluj(his "assistant") out.

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  58. We visit two every year. One is a smaller one about a half an hour from home and the other is about 2-1/2 hours. The second one is large enough to have permanent buildings and run most weekends in September. We have gone so much that we know a few performers by their real names and our kids get lots of hugs. The performers love that our kids get into dressing up and refer to them as the future performers. We'd love to got to some of the larger ones, but one of our children in autistic and we don't want to overwhelm him. We have a few friends who think it's expensive to go, but as we've pointed out it costs about as much as tickets into a movie and we can watch all of the stage shows we want and we get to see live jousting.

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  59. Ah, and now YOU'RE making me want to go to a Ren Fest... RIGHT NOW! That's the second time today! :D If only fall wasn't so far away (that's when the one nearest my house opens up). I'm a pretty introverted girl myself, but I have a lot of fun wandering around with whoever I go with, cheering noisily at the jousting festival, occasionally dressing up... and pretending I have enough money to buy all the cool stuff. ;D And yeah, sometimes long walks can be useful - if a bit hard on the feet! Glad you had fun. :) (*crosses fingers* October, come soon!)

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  60. Can wait for the Michigna Ren Fest. The Washer Wenches are one of my favorite shows as well! Though, my biggest favorite is The Ded Bob Sho.

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  61. Have you checked into Public Transportation? Our local faire contracts with the metro bus line to provide transportation too and from the site. Free bus ride to and from a central point as long as you have a ticket to the faire.

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  62. Dying of cuteness over the mermaid idea. I LOVE IT! I'm with you on the parking lot anxiety. I don't mind big crowds at events but if I am stuck in a parking lot for more than 5 minutes I feel completely tracked.
    Love you Jen!

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  63. I grew up in Tampa (mostly) and went to Ren Fair when I could (which wasn't as often as I would have liked). That was many years ago, though (try about 30 eeep!). Oddly enough, I think they had that swing and the laundry ladies (or an earlier incarnation of them) back then.

    They still have the Rat Catcher guy?

    Good for you for making it through the day. Those faires can be quite challenging in even the best of times.

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  64. Thank you Jen for being so open about your anxieties. I know you get told that a lot, but it really does make a difference. It made a difference for me today.

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  65. Pro Tip: You went on the last weekend of the faire which in my experience is the WORST time for crowds/parking. I went on Easter Sunday this year and it was PERFECT. I thought due to it being a holiday and beautiful outside that the place would be swamped, but the crowds were light, but not light enough to be considered desolate and the traffic was minimal. I have moderate traffic/parking/crowd induced anxiety so the level of intensity on Easter weekend was perfect for me. :) Just something to keep in mind. Definitely avoid the last weekend though if stuff like that bothers you.

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  66. Oh wow! I remember that fair! I used to live in south Florida, and our History teacher in high school took us to that fair *circa 1995*. I have a clear memory of the resident 'gangsta' of our class trying to act all cool and aloof for the first few minutes...then disappearing. We were all rather shocked when he reappeared, in FULL REN GARB. He'd gone and bought a full outfit, had his bling and threads in a satchel! LOL.

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  67. Glad you got to go. Hubs and I went on the 23rd and giirrrrrlllll you and John totally missed the Steampunk Costume Contest! :( I totally freaked when I found out we went the same day they were having it, but unfortunately we missed it. We did however, see a whole bunch of costumes walking around the place afterwards and I got a couple of really aweseome shots; they were so willing to pose when I asked nicely. :) You saw the washing women with clean clothes on? That must have been an early show, they're normally soaked to the bone. I could have sworn I saw the juggler in years past, or maybe it's the actual guy you're saying is new? Great shots you took with that lovely camera of yours!! Did you guys catch the human chess match and the jousting too? I got my henna and my face paint on... it was so fun!! Gosh I'd love to go every weekend, but alas the budget and all....

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  68. Hi Jen
    I saw this - 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed. and thought it mirrored many of the things you've said. While it's focused on depression instead of anxiety, a lot of what the author suggests is applicable to anyone dealing with a mental illness.

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    1. I just saw this yesterday making the rounds on FB via my friend, and after I read it I thought for me the title may as well be "21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You're Depressed and Anxious". (One of my triggers is the side effects of a depressive state, especially combined in the work setting i.e. lessened work performance or emotional roller coaster while I'm at work.)

      But a lot of the advice is also helpful for me during straight-up, non-depressive state triggered anxiety too. So ditto on the article's worth beyond depression.

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  69. great pictures, i love the mermaid. but it is funny how different the renessaince fair is to the medival markets here in germany/europe. if you would like to know http://www.mittelalter-seelenfaenger.de/galerien.html on this homepage are some pictures from different medival markets all over germany (sorry its in german only, but i think it is all about the pictures ;) )

    kind regards from germany

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  70. As I've probably said before, dealing with anxiety takes tremendous *courage*. Everyone is a work in progress, so focus on the progress you've made (car trips don't bother you anymore, etc). It was incremental for me at first. I would be in a trigger situation, and suddenly realize that the symptoms weren't as bad as before, or maybe they started later than before. Then the 'flash' came: I can get through this; I don't have to have a pounding heart and all that other stuff!

    Those victories started to 'snowball', just as the fears had done, years earlier. The downward spiral turned into an upward spiral. You are right, Jen -- there IS hope, and nothing is preventing tomorrow from being better.

    In the early days, I found re-reading Claire Weekes' book surprisingly helpful; instead of thinking, "I've read this before," I approached it as if it were new, and found new insights. Though I never tried egg flips -- I couldn't figure out what flipping an egg had to do with anything.

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  71. I suffer from panic attacks too, and travelling is a HUGE trigger for me. I tend to rely on rituals and props, if I have certain things with me and everything is the same for each journey, I can sometimes make it without spazzing out. I am 27 years old and might be flying for the first time later this year! FROM THE UK TO THE US! I think I'll bring some valium just in case... :P

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  72. My best friends went to that fair on Sunday! They had a fabulous time, and came home with a rather intimidating wooden mug-- or really, tankard. I was sad to be away and unable to go myself. Next year! (And as a fellow anxiety sufferer, especially in traffic, will remember your tip to park further away and skip the line...) Thanks for the great virtual visit!

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  73. Amy in Williamsburg, VAApril 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Ren Fair! I love the Ren Fair! Like you, I have crowd anxiety (and traffic anxiety), but when we are outside it is usually much better (although I am terrified of bee's and have to fight the panic attacks from them). When you talk about your anxiety it makes the rest of us with similar issues feel like we are in an accepting group. While my family has been great about the issue, not everyone else is, and you can find yourself a little isolated because you just don't want to go out because you MIGHT have an anxiety attack (I have big problems grocery shopping - I let my husband do it usually, but sometimes I have to go, or I want to force myself to face the fears so I will go and it is never fun).

    As for the Ren Fair If you ever get the chance to see Zilch the Tory Stellar - run to him! He is so awesome, he talks backwards (spoonerisms). You can find him on You Tube and at his website torystellar.com.

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  74. I love Ren Faires!! I take my kids to the one in Bristol, WI every year (for the last 4 or so years). We almost always go in costume...this year I am hoping to get a new costume...not sure what yet, though. I found a fairy one for my 10 yr old daughter (sorry, Jen....I am just NOT crafty at all, though I dearly wish I was, so that I could make this stuff). My boys have gone as pirates, gladiators, and Scottish boys wearing kilts (to match their grandpa who went with us). Last year I made my daughter a gypsy from clothes we had around the house, because she had outgrown her chemise and Irish dress.

    Anyhow....if the Barely Balanced group ever comes to the Ren faire near you -- they are a MUST see!! We watch them EVERY year! They are both hilarious and amazing!

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  75. I love Ren Fairs. I also tend to get some anxiety when I'm around large groups of adults, however when I go in costume, it's a completely different experience. I get to be someone I'm not, and people always "ooh" and "ahh." I've been going to fairs for 10+ years in costume now, and recently I went to one not in costume. I cannot believe how different it was. Anyway, I highly recommend dressing up, it has made it so much more fun!

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  76. I have not been to the Ren Fair since they moved it from Largo to Tampa.
    I have a great picture of my Dad at the fair a few years before he died (mid 90s?). One of the bawdy ladies is grabbing him from behind & kissing him. He has a smile on his face. (Dad didn't smile much in pictures.
    BTW that push seahorse ride was back there then.

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  77. Thanks for sharing Jen! Totally going to get out there while we're in Florida! I've never been to a Ren Faire and am stoked to know there's one close by!

    Also - I'm the roller derby girl ;) I have not forgotten to give you our schedule but we're kinda on a slight break - I'll post on your FB when it gets closer/we have a flyer with the details - but the next bout is May 19th.
    And THEN - June 9th will be the bout I hopefully play at! (We get sorted onto league teams next weekend and I'll know then whether or not I'll be on one of the two teams that plays that day!!) Whooo!!!

    Have a great dayyyy!

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  78. I was so disappointed to find out this was the last weekend! I'll have to start planning and saving to go next year. Thank you very much for the reminder, I now have it on my calendar!

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  79. I do RenFaire in Southern California as part of a guild. The ones I go to are MUCH smaller. I'm super introverted and I usually end up spending most of the day hiding. The best part as a Rennie, is hanging out after hours.

    If you can find a smaller faire, they're a lot more low key, but with great vendors and usually great shows. They're not as heavily advertised though.

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  80. Johnny Phoenix is a MUST see at the faire! :) He's a talented comedian and an all around heckuva great guy! And his adult show at the end of the day is rater R for "Riotously Hilarious"!

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  81. I love Ren fairs too! I have been to 3 different states and seen them, often dragging others who think they won't "like" it... then of course leave asking, "can we come again next year?"
    I love the food, the shopping and the costumes. I worked at the one in Minnesota for years, and my brother still does.
    Thank you for sharing your visit!

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  82. I'm glad you had a great time at the Renaissance Faire! I'm a bit of a social introvert and I enjoy going to the faires to help get more comfortable interacting with strangers. It's a work in progress.

    My wife's and my 2012 Bay Area Faire Garb (work in progress):
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/35uhhtv3m0dzvtb/IMG_0340.JPG

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  83. Mermaids were a traveling mermaid group. They travel around with their tank and do mermaid shows at all kinds of events.

    They dont have a website but you can find them on facebook
    Facebook.com/merbellastudios

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  84. Was just reading over your backlog of posts and realized that the girl in the feathered head piece and scale armor is my friend Cheryl. She's a cosplayer based out of Orlando https://www.facebook.com/PinkJusticeCosplay

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