Y’all may remember that back in June, I was bemoaning the fact that I had missed ren faire season. May and June are prime time for a lot of the smaller renaissance faires in New England because there’s no point in competing with all the county fairs in the fall.
That is, of course, unless you are a Really Big Renaissance Faire. There are a couple big ren faires within driving range of where I live, and my husband and I have been toying with the idea of hitting up King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA for a while now.
I’m really glad we did!
For those not familiar with the concept, renaissance faires are interactive period-themed parks, usually with very little historical accuracy and a lot of silly fun. You can meet pirates and fairies and Elizabethan-style kings and queens. There are loads of artisans and performers to enjoy, as well as a variety of food choices typical for fairs.
Renaissance faires also get a bad rep in a lot of circles because the employees and performers are in full character and often guests will also dress up to join in the themes of the day. You’ll be called “lord” or “lady” and hear people saying “huzzah!” all day long. If you can get past the playacting – or even better, get into it – renaissance faires are a lot of fun.
King Richard’s is by far the most impressive renaissance faire I’ve ever been to. It’s well-organized, runs simultaneous shows on six different stages, and hosts artisans from all over the country. You can watch re-enactors joust, or see a blacksmith create a sword in an old-fashioned forge. Even if you’re not there to buy, it’s fun to see all the performers and interact with them. It’s great for kids – there are rides and games and even some animals. But you know what? Also super fun for adults.
Seriously, there was knife throwing and I was really tempted to try it out.
Matt and I arrived at King Richard’s shortly after opening on their second weekend. The festival runs weekends from Labor Day through Halloween, so there are lots of opportunities to check it out. The Faire gets busier into October, so you can usually find decent deals on Groupon for the first couple of weekends. That said, it was still busy! And I was impressed how organized they were in parking, taking tickets, and food services. They do sell vouchers for food and beverages – it comes out to 1 voucher = $1. This was something I wasn’t expecting and I wasn’t super excited about it, especially because they’re non-refundable and if you don’t already know what you want you may not get the correct amount. That said – it made getting food a lot faster and simpler! It’s really my only complaint.
This is a permanent faire, so there are proper buildings and stages that are there year-round. All shows are free with admission, but please know that the games and rides cost a little money. You really don’t need to indulge in the extracurricular if you don’t want to, however. There are a lot of impressive performers.
When Matt and I arrived, we went directly to the Tiger Stage. A small group from the Great Cats World Park in Oregon were there, and we are such cat people, we wanted to check out the show. It was great – fun and informative, an included cats of all different sizes. They were humanely treated, and guests were warned to remain in their seats and to remember that they are predatory animals and to respect the cats, which I appreciated. They were all well behaved, and seemed to love their keepers.
After the show, we did a lot of wandering around to see the vendors! There are loads of vendors at the show, all themed to renaissance so there is a lot of clothing, leather goods, weaponry, and homemade instruments. It took us three hours to get through all the vendors… and honestly, we probably missed a few.
I am one of those nerds who dresses up. What can I say? I love history and ren faires are a bit of a weakness. They are super historically inaccurate, but they are fun! I try to get a costume piece at every faire – I’ve gotten a tunic and a corset in the past and am working my way up to a sort of Anne Bonny situation. This year, it was a pirate hat.
What can I say? Something about sailing the seas calls to me. And also, I can wear pants as a pirate, which is ideal for walking around all day! Seriously though? All the kids are dressed up and that’s expected… but most of the adults had at least one costume piece, even if it was just a flagon or a tiara.
We also managed to catch a bit of the knight’s parade and the wench’s show. Everyone’s energy was great. We spotted two aerialists over the food court, and an intimidating man with a whip demonstrating near the entrance.
If you’ve never been to a renaissance faire, I really can’t recommend it enough. If you’re not sure, you can find them all over and some of the smaller ones can feel a little bit less intimidating for a newbie. That said – the big ones are a lot more easygoing, have a lot more activities, and are generally more fun.