We are fortunate to live fifteen minutes from the grounds of the Arizona Renaissance Faire. The festival is located on 30 acres of permanent grounds just east of Apache Junction. Thirteen sound stages, hundreds of vendors, live acts and entertainment, artisans and crafts-persons all in one event. And of course food and beverages – adult beverages!
2016 was the 27th year of the event. It is easy to spot the geeks in the crowd, they arrive in costume. Yes, that includes Liz and myself! Many people strive for authenticity in their costumes. Others opt for the fantastical. Many, this year, paid homage to Game of Thrones. And of course there are the scantily clad girls; not Elizabethan by any stretch of the imagination, but who am I to complain?
Our first stop – after the beer stand, of course, is Tartanic. Otherwise known as “Men without pants”, Tartanic is a band from Houston, TX playing their own version of bagpipe rock and roll. The performance is bawdy, lively and a great way to begin the day. Tartanic obviously believes they are a good way to start the day – one of their bits is having a member of the audience dial a friend that will likley be still in bed, so that they can play bagpipes into the phone and help them begin their day.
The arena is soon filled with people dancing to traditional Scottish instruments and no-so-traditional Scottish music. After Tartanic, we hit the various stages to see the Wash Wenches, the Ded Bob Sho, and the Tortuga Twins. All of the shows contain adult humor, but are basically child friendly as the humor, for the most part, will fly over the heads of young’uns. Most involve luring innocent audience members on stage to participate in embarrassing acts to the amusement of those of us smart enough not to sit near the front row. Of course there is plenty to keep children amused, G-rated shows and rides.
Usually around noonish, we hit the food courts. I had the turkey leg – this sucker had to weight three pounds! They have bread bowls that are almost too big to eat. There is pizza for the non-adventurous. There is even a stand that sells dolmas. All of the food prices are reasonable – and domestic beers are $4. I opted for the Smithwick’s – a little more but worth it to drink a decent beer on draught.
The high point of the day is the joust. There are three tournaments each day, and the contests are not staged as far as who the winner is going to be. The jousters are paired off based on who win contests of skill. Points are awarded by whether or not the jouster hits the opponent’s shield, of knocks the shield off (more points) or breaks the opponent’s lance (even more points).
After the joust, we hit the belly dancers. Not literally, we would be banned from the grounds for that. Then we stroll the grounds one last time checking out the vendors. By four o’clock we are drained. Six hours is not nearly enough time to see everything we would like, but 4PM is the perfect time to make an exit, beating the mad rush at 5. At $21, the tickets are a bargain. All of the entertainment is free – but it is a nice idea to tip the acts. They actually do this for a living!
With tourist/snow bird season winding down, my entertainment will be more of a back-to-nature sort. Hiking, camping, target shooting. And I am running out of excuses to prevent me from working on the camper, or in the studio. At least until the summer weather hits.