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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.