Last week we took advantage of the Medieval Faire’s cheap school-day rates. I was hesitant, because we almost went with some friends last year, and ended up not going, and then it was in the paper that some 15-year-old girl was attacked and raped by a convict who was working at one of the greasy food vendors called The Queen’s Buns.
It was actually really fun this year, and I think the mistake of previous years was not going on the school day. There were tons of kids and families, rather than the usual dirty-men-with-neck-tattooes or ancient-wrinkled-women-in-revealing-bodices you see on the regular days. Sorry, I know that sounds so judgemental, but the crowd is decidedly seedy, and my children don’t exactly stay close or listen to me. And this year I feel like Clothilde could have really used a leash – I spent a lot of time chasing her while she ran squealing away and tried to get lost in the crowd. (Just joking about the leash, but it’s tempting sometimes).
Another problem is the sheer rip-off factor. Like $5 for a few minutes to sit on a horse and walk twenty feet and back. Or $5 to be swung around in a circle for a minute. Or $5 to walk through a lame fabric maze. Or $5 to ride on the unhappy camel.
The trick is to not bring any extra money at all, and that cuts out all the whining for this-and-that.
Mirin was reprimanded quite sharply at a knife tent, for unsheathing the knives and looking carefully at the blades. He had brought some money to spend, and wanted to see if he could get a new knife. After the vendor shouted, “Don’t you dare touch that!” at his potential customer, I couldn’t help saying, “Oh, come on, Mirin, nothing here holds an edge anyway,” and the vendor flinched visibly. He knew it was true – everything there was useless-but-stylized for people that want to wear knives and swords that look like something out of a Hobbit Adventure Quest rather than actually use them for anything in real life. Mirin was shaken, but at least he didn’t add a pathetic and expensive new knife to his collection.
We met some friends and watched the jousting, which was very entertaining. The horses were beautiful and very well-trained. We saw some acrobats, and hung out in the kid area for a while (I’ve never seen it before – it is a good addition) where we ate the snack we brought and Clothilde got chalk all over her. The SCA tent was my favorite, despite the square yards of faux-fur synthetic fabric hanging up outside (the streaky coloring of it seemed to indicate it came off of a magic unicorn/woolly mammoth cross).
I got to talk to some fellow fiber enthusiasts and a woman who did natural dyeing while my older children ran amok with more friends we ran into. Clothilde got lost just after that, and I found her after a desperate glance-around rolling on the ground with a couple of service dogs. The lady who was attached to them said, “She’s mugging our dogs!” She was kind of joking.
On the way back to the exit, my big kids ran ahead and got stuck up in the very front of the audience for the super-lame “Human Chessboard,” which is more like a “Theatrical RPG Fantasy Show.” Years ago they did away with bothering about the chessboard part of it. I couldn’t get to them, so we had to suffer through the whole thing. It was actually quite violent, although very fake violence, but there was a scene with a woman getting fake-horsewhipped by a pot-bellied man dressed as a warrior that was really awful.
We also stayed for the second round of jousting, because it was at the very end. Clothilde was doing acrobatics all over the metal gate for the show, but luckily the guy who was dressed up as the “guard” knew us from volunteering at Dudley farm and didn’t yell at us about it. Instead he cooed at Clothilde, and laughed at how she was dangling.
We left, happy, tired, and pleased with all the friends we met and saw.