5/2/12

Guest Post: Virginia Renaissance Faire

  This is a re-post of last year's review of the Virginia Renaissance Faire.  However, we have tickets again this year!! Want to go? Leave a comment below with either your favorite part about the Renaissance Faire, or if you've never been, why you'd like to go! We'll pick a winner on Friday!

__________________________________________________________

Thanks again to guest blogger Gaby from Domestic Goddess Musings for sharing the Virginia Renaissance Faire, and to the Faire coordinators for sponsoring our ticket giveaway!!

Many thanks to the fabulous Kristina of PWC Moms for sending our family to the Virginia Renaissance Faire! It was a lovely day in the Lake Anna region of Virginia, so we ended up staying from 10:30-2:00 (the event runs from 10:00-5:00 each day). Each weekend the faire is open has a theme, and this weekend featured Celtic Heritage. I'm not sure what exactly was more Celtic yesterday than any other day, but we saw a lot of kilts.

The fair grounds are rather large and could have easily accommodated crowds larger than the ones we visited with. A word to the wise though: take a jogging or all-terrain stroller. The "paths" are gravelly, and the grass is uneven. Pushing our umbrella stroller around was difficult once we were having to push a larger kid while juggling the little one.

The first "thing" that happened was that our older kids (4 and 2) decided they were going to be terrified of all the Renaissance actors. It took them about an hour and/or the queen's arrival to make them enjoy interacting with the characters. My 2 y/o never really loosened up enough to talk with anyone though she did inspect their clothes closely. The actors all remained solidly in character, and by the time we left, I'd begun returning their "Good morrows" and mentally referring to the crowd as gentles instead of people.

My husband and our friends were then recruited to march in the Queen's parade. They got some basic training on how to carry their "lances" and how to march. It was pretty cool. While they did that, the kids and I listened to a bard spin tales, watched the cooks create meals in an outdoor stone oven, and enjoyed the minstrels create improvisational songs.

We watched a few skits held in the Queen's honor, and I was happily impressed that all the topics were pretty clean. No flaming lewdness or cursing. The worst subject was that of pirate drunkenness, and even then, it was poking fun at pirates, not praising them. Other acts we watched included another improv singer, a magician, and the Fool. The Fool was my favorite. He did lots of fantastic acrobatic tricks while juggling. The best one was balancing on a board on top of a rolling barrel while tossing knives around. My kids liked him hula hooping with a flaming hoop best. There was a complimentary wine tasting of the Lake Anna Winery's samples for adults. Yum! Among the things we missed were an equestrian/jousting show, an archery exhibition, and a knighting (or ordaining as a lady) of the children.

Things we enjoyed seeing but not participating in were the petting zoo (baby alpacas, goats, and sheep), watching a weaving demonstration, watching gentles try to throw axes, watching gentles try archery, and playing in the kids area. There were also tons of vendors. It was very easy to get tempted to want a fun costume item, but so many of the costume pieces for sale were uber-expensive, so the temptation passed quickly. Other vendors had jewelry, chain mail pieces, weaponry, old-fashioned wooden toys, soaps, tobacco, and alpaca wool skeins.

And finally...the food! I've only been to one other (smaller) Renaissance Faire, and the food was pretty much the same. I saw frozen chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick (drool), funnel cakes, Scottish eggs, turkey legs, ginormous sausages on a stick, and sweet potato fries as well as standard American fare of hot dogs, burgers, and Frito pies (num!). We enjoyed a turkey leg and two hot dogs for $13. While it was not nearly enough for a family of five, I had packed a very hefty lunch bag with snacks, juices, and extra waters. My husband and I finished off our 1L bottle, the kids finished their 0.5L bottles, and the baby polished her 8 oz. cup of water pretty quickly, and the weather was in the mid 80s. Drinks, of course, are where you really pay a premium. Bottled 16 oz. waters ranged from $1.00-$1.50, 12 oz. sodas were about $2.50, and lemonades were $5.00 for a largish plastic cup ($2.00 for refills).


We went to the car to snack, but I don't think there would have been a problem if we had brought the food in. When we walked back into the Faire, the kids had their apples in hand, and nobody remarked on them.

Overall, the Renaissance Faire was a great event, and I am so glad our family had the opportunity to attend. Next year, we'll take advantage of the Military History weekend over Memorial Day and get in gratis.

Pros:
-Great chances for the kids senses to be stimulated (touching the weapons and looms, listening to the music, watching the shows, tasting the food, and smelling the animals) to learn about history.
-Lots of space-we weren't constantly running over feet with our stroller or losing our kids in the crowd.
-Plenty of shady spots to take a break or change a diaper in.
-The ability to go and come back in (hand stamp return method).
-Plenty of FREE parking spaces!
-FREE wine tasting!

Cons:
-The actors were a little scary to the kids at first.
-Some gentles visiting the Faire felt the need to dress like serving wenches and show more skin than I wanted to see...and I am by no means a big conservative when it comes to dressing.
-If you get there after 11:30, you're probably going to be hiking to and from your car.

Caution:
-It's easy to get dehydrated and over-exposed in the sun despite the lovely temperature and slight cloud cover. I was thankful I had a stash of hats in the car and sunscreen in the diaper bag. Bring lots of water and sun protection.
-Bring an all-terrain stroller so you have an easy time of pushing your tots around.
-Be aware that some female costumes will be overly revealing.

Recommendation: A great family outing. Definitely do your best to get out and support this event!

40 comments:

  1. I've never been to the VA Renaissance Faire, but my 6 year-old is begging me to go! He wants to attend in costume.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never been to the VA Renaissance Faire and my two kids would LOVE it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My Little Faire Ladies would LOVE to go! They have the perfect costumes! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. My family

    ReplyDelete
  5. Can't wait to check it ot, been longing to go to one of those for a while :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Would love to take the kiddos! Sounds like a lot of fun! My little princess would love it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've never been, but would love to go. I'm always in search of new and different places for a family outing. This looks like so much fun!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Id love to go!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Would love to go to this event!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've only gone to the MD Renn Fair -- had no idea VA had one. Would love to check it out this year.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sounds great! We just moved to Virginia in October and have never been. We would love to go!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I haven't been in a long time, but I remember going as a kid! I used to love it! Hoping to take my 8 year old this year!

    ReplyDelete
  13. We've never been there. Would love to go with my 2 kids

    ReplyDelete
  14. I haven't been to the VA fair, but my favorite thing about Renaissance Fairs is the random people dressed in costume, enjoying the day and watching all the performers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I went to the festival a couple of years ago and had an amazing time. A friend was participating so we got basically a behind the scenes tour of all the workings. I loved the comedy show and the dancing. I would love to take the fam but the economy just doesn't allow for it being unemployed now. Please consider us for the tickets, I would love to take my daughter for her first time.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would love to take my 7 year old and husband to this!

    ReplyDelete
  17. We've never been but would love to go this year! An amazing experience for the kids!

    ReplyDelete
  18. We've never been but already have our costumes ready if yiu pick us to go! ;0)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Havent been to one since i was young. Would LOVE to take my 3 kids! Great experience!

    ReplyDelete
  20. We have never been! Sounds like it would be fun

    ReplyDelete
  21. I would love to check this out. We have been to the one in MD but never in VA.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I haven't been since I was little. My girls would love this!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have never been to an event like this, but this sounds great. The fact that it is so close by is a definete plus. We will check it out for sure and free tickets would come in handy!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Lots of fun. And I highly recommend the pirate weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  25. My family and I have never been to the Faire. I would love to take my girls. Thanks for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I would LOVE to go and win!

    ReplyDelete
  27. love, love, love the RenFests!!! would love to go

    ReplyDelete
  28. We have never been but would love to go! My mother is from England and with a family of four kids we haven't been able to get overseas to visit. My kids are enthralled with this era. We've been wanting to go for some time so now the youngest is old enough to enjoy - we can't wait to go!

    ReplyDelete
  29. We went 2 years ago for pirate invasion and would love to go back.

    ReplyDelete
  30. We wanted to go last year but I was too pregnant. Would love to go this year with my medieval-loving husband and almost one- year old.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Really looking forward to this ! Im going to take my son to the pirate weekend ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. My daughter's favorite part is definitely the archery. We'd love to win the tickets this year.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Meredith HurleyMay 4, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    This was a huge tradition for my husband's family. I only got to go once with them and I learned to juggle...badly. Would love to start the tradition back up with our own children.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Have never been and have always wanted to go!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have never been to the VA Renaissance Fair. I have been in the area for 11 years and think it is about time I take the kids. They would love it esp the Pirate day since my son is obsessed with Pirates!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Elizabeth DebaptisteMay 4, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    We have never been to this renaissance faire. My three boys would love all the activities and my husband would love the huge turkey legs.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I've never been to this one, but would love to take the family!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I would love to take the kids. It is on my bucket list, but we've never made it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think this would be amazing to take the kids to! I teach my children about history and art at every opportunity - Winning tickets would be like a fairy-tale come true for our very own princess and two little knights!

    ReplyDelete