|Because I don't get enough of Renaissance Faires...
||[Oct. 16th, 2007|12:29 pm]
I thought I'd take a weekend off to go to the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. Now, I went into it with attitude -- as I do when you call it a Renaissance Faire, but your storyline is King Arthur's Court. And I'm greeted at the gates by pirates...|
So, please, remember that this is totally colored by a whole LOT of family baggage...an entire truckload of Samsonite.
See, despite me spending vast amounts of my free time performing at, playing at and managing renaissance faire and related events, not a single member of my family has ever been to one. Despite living in a small state that has TWO of its own, and being about an hour and half drive from Tux. But, whatever, clearly they weren't going to go out of curiosity, so, aggressive controlling bitch that I am, I decide to drag them to one. I tried last year -- the year that it rained so hard the weekend that I came up, that it washed the CT faire right out of its grounds. Really. A river ran through it. They had to close early. They had to find a new home. So, I was a little concerned that a second visit would be a death knell for the organization.
But they had managed to find a new, temporary home at the Hebron Fair grounds. Which, for a little country fair is charming enough. For a Renaissance Faire, not so much. The big white barns marked "Sheep" and "Swine" were a little distracting. The joust ring that was clearly a horse and ox pull ring with it's pulling bed, chain link fence and jersey barriers...not so charming. Still, there were flushies...and the faire did the best it could. A veritable ass-load of vendors. This was truly a shopping event. Not that I saw much that I couldn't live without, but I'm prepared to blame that on my family and am not willing to criticize the vendor mix.
Shows...not so much. Their main musical act was the Bawdy Bucaneers...whom I had to avoid since every time I overheard them they were doing what was clearly a rip-off of the Pyrates Royale and I really didn't want to cause a scene, not with my nieces there. A little bit of harp here, a hammered dulcimer player there, some madrigals singers there...but really, too damn quiet. And cast...there was a lot of cast listed, but I only ever saw one wandering the "village." Admittedly, I missed all of the cast shows. (Again, thanks to the family.) With all of those vendors, they could have used some more atmosphere in the lanes. Most of the atmosphere was provided by the Wenches Guild who seemed to dog our steps, doing wenchings right and left.
Understand this -- I'm not a huge fan of wenching -- sure it's cute, but the whole lipstick thing....I'm a purist and it wrecks it for me, like a fabulous noble's rig ruined by a cell phone, sunglasses and a Pepsi cup. So here I am, trying to show my family just what it is I do on weekends and I've got this group of women following us around, putting on lipstick and stalking guys...(all of my dear wenchfriends, put your goodhumor cloaks on and roll with the story, wouldja?)
Which wouldn't have been so bad if we'd seen some cast action, or street entertainment, but...it just wasn't the best intro, when you're walking around with your two young nieces and your WASPy Mom who still thinks that tattoos and non-ear piercings are one step from carnival geek.
Admittedly, we were all freezing, which never helps.
See the whole thing started off badly enough when we decided to switch our foray from Saturday to Sunday, because the weather forecast said that Sunday would be the nicer day. So Mom and I spent a glorious day on Saturday shopping along the shoreline, having a lobster roll at Lenny & Joe's (straight chunks of lobster (lawbstah)on a Pepperidge Farms (Pepridge Fahms) split top roll, drizzled with butter (buttah), none of that mayonnaise crap that makes it lobster salad, thank you very much. Abomination. (Abahwmination.) ) I think I'm over my allotment of parentheses, but too time-pressed to go back and figure it out.
So, Sunday comes and it's a bit...chilly. So I say to everyone "No, you need to wear something heavier and put an extra jacket in the car." And they say "But it's going to be 70 degrees out, we'll be fine." And I say "Look, it's colder than you think, it'll be colder there 'cause it's inland and for all we know you'll be sitting in the shade for a half an hour on a bench and you'll get cold."
See, you know already that I've lost...sure enough, I'm the only one who brought a sweatshirt and a jacket and that I could not get THOSE WHO DRESSED TOO LIGHTLY to borrow my extra coat, so of course, I could not wear it because MARTYRDOM RUNS IN OUR BLOOD.
And of course, there were two ways to get there and sure, we went the way I suggested, but the entire way, various members of my family had to comment on how the other way would have been shorter...
And apparently our sense of fun was left in the car, too. We tried the puppet show, since brother is a marionette geek, but the show was clearly designed for the six and under set and only a single puppeteer made for not a lot of flashy puppetwork. After sitting grimly through half of the Buccaneer Blades show, with my mother asking if anyone was ready to walk around again every three minutes, we went shopping. Naturally, somehow we wound up in the leather, pelt, skin, horn and bone section. With my vegetarian brother, sister-in-law and children.
Thankfully the sun came out enough just as we were about to pack it in due to frostbite and the kids enjoyed the joust. A little more shopping (which was thankfully light on animal parts) and then my brother decided we needed to see Smee & Blogg, the Executioner show. Which is something. And was totally worth it, just to see the look on my brother's face. It was like he got it, suddenly. Like, okay, there are two fifty-something guys, barechested, with hoods on, one holding an executioner's axe, the other a ukele and they're doing an executioner-themed parody of "Tiptoe through the Tulips". It seemed to jolt loose everyone's sense of fun. Like a dare -- if we can do this for 30 years at renaissance faires, the least you people can do is loosen the hell up and enjoy yourselves.
Which enabled my brother and the kids to get into it, do some crossbow shooting, knife throwing, find the Pope & Cardinal show funny...and sort of save the day from disaster. Looking at my 13 year old niece's face at the beginning of the day, when I asked her "Do you just want to die of humiliation right now?" and she said "uh-huh", I had thought "whoops, it's too late, she's too into being cool to understand the utter uncoolness of this whole thing makes it actually cutting edge cool..." But by the end of the day she was asking my mother how she could go about working at a Renaissance Faire and how old you had to be to start.
Despite me being disappointed in the Faire as a whole (not that it sucked -- but as an example of the main shows I do -- Maryland and Virginia...it just wasn't the example I was looking for) it wasn't a horrible day -- let's face it, any day out with my entire family is hard -- imagine 4 of me out on a trip together. My brother, my mother, my father and myself, all knowing exactly the best way to do something, the right way to go, the most optimum time. None of us able to keep our opinions to ourselves...my nieces exhibiting appropriate pre-teen and early teen behavior and my poor sister-in-law trying to keep everyone happy.
But all in all, they're already planning on a possible Virginia trip in the spring and MDRF in the fall. Save some Xanax for me....