As one last hurrah before school started last Monday, we decided to take The Shortlings to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. (We generally go once year, but we usually hit the Maryland one as it's much closer.) That SCA stuff is The KingofHearts' thing, not mine, but in past years, even I've started to recognize not only the actors and vendors at the Maryland Faire, but also the people who show up year after year. Perhaps it's time for a change. So we thought it'd be interesting to see the event in another state... plus I have a friend who works at this one so it'd be a chance to catch up with her.
I general, I'd guess that Pennsylvania's Faire is a bit smaller than Maryland's, but we loved it. The grounds are beautiful, the actors much more fun and the whole thing was organized in a way to draw you into the drama of the day. It was much less a dress-up-sexy-and-drink-alot-of-grog kind of day and more a be-a-part-of-the-action kind of day. The girls decided to dress up, and that earned a lot of attention from all the actors who all stopped to say "Good day, Princess" and bow each time they passed. They thought that was an excellent time to use the curtsey-ing skills The KoH has taught them.
We started off with feats of strength and a bit of jousting.
The Dormouse faced her opponent well.
Then we rode an elephant.
I am never going to stop thinking that's cool.
The KingofHearts ate a Scotch Egg and has now been forever ruined for all other types of eggs.
We attended a human chess game, where the main characters at the faire, William Shakespeare and Christoper Marlowe, tried to settle their differences amicably. Each time one "piece" tried to take another in the game, the board would be cleared and the two actors would duel to decide which piece had to leave the board. Ultimately, the Queen decided that they should settle their argument at the jousting tournament later that day with each of their knights acting for them.
Then we stopped at a jewelry counter and talked to a nice lady where The Dormouse begged us to buy her a necklace. We'd already spent many, many dollars (though admittedly a good half of the dollars spent were probably spent on scotch eggs) so we said, " No. No jewelry. No more presents." Instead, we needed lunch so we went across the path to buy a deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich... and maybe also a deep fried Snickers bar and deep fried Twinkie.... just like they ate during the Renaissance. The Dormouse finished eating before the rest of us and asked if she could go back and look at the jewelry some more and we obliged. We looked up a minute later to find The Dormouse behind the counter selling jewelry and barking to the crowd like Billy Bigelow in Carousel.
We caught the vendor's eye and she just grinned and gave us two thumbs-up.
When we finally dragged her away from the jewelry, the vendor had given her the necklace she'd been asking for earlier. She was offered a job, but we decided we needed to leave before The Dormouse decided to make this her life's goal and headed toward the jousting tournament.
On the way, The Caterpillar decided to find every eligible young Elizabethan man she could and flirt with him. One such man was the actor who actually played Kit Marlowe in the chess game earlier. He was smitten by her charms and low, low curtsey (seriously, we tried to explain you don't have to actually put your knee on the ground, but she embraced the low curtsey and never quite got it) and asked her to be his escort in the parade. A more excited little girl you could not have found.
When Kit Marlowe realized The Caterpillar had a sister standing behind her he said, "Well, I can't have two escorts for the parade, but let me introduce you to my squires and you can pick which from among them you'd like to have escort you." Then he led The Dormouse to a group of young men and she picked the youngest and handsomest of them to be her escort in the parade without a moment's hesitation. Heaven help me when this girl turns sixteen.
While they were waiting, they were presented to the Queen.
And then they led the parade to the jousting tournament.
Let me just say here, that my least favorite part of any RenFaire has always been the jousting. I appreciate and understand that there's a certain amount of skill presented by the performers, but I find it generally pedantic and uninteresting. I almost always advocate to skip this event, but since the girls had led the parade, we couldn't exactly go at that point. Plus they were smitten with Marlowe and he'd told them to sit on his side of the arena and cheer for him. So we stayed. Which is a good thing, because their jousting tournament was more entertaining than any I'd seen. They had audience participation, intrigue, dramatic twists, a coup, a military response, stunts and pyrotechnics... and through it all, the girls' new boyfriends were both up there on the stage directing all the action. They had a great time cheering for them. They thought it was all for them.
On our way out of the area, I encouraged the girls to stay close so they wouldn't get carried away from us in the crowd.
"Right," The Dormouse encouraged her sister, "We wouldn't want to get lost here and have to live here at the Renaissance Faire."
The KingofHearts was heard to mutter, "Something tells me if that happened, you two would be juuuussst fine."