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A Last Huzzah (and what to wear) at the PA Renaissance Faire

October 31, 2012

Just before Hurricane Sandy took away Halloween, my family and I made it to the last Saturday of the annual Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

Perhaps it was the proximity to the holiday or because the season was ending, but the massive crowd was predominantly costumed – even more so than usual. Lords, ladies, maidens, wenches, gypsies, and pirates magically made their penchant for pageantry contagious.

I found myself searching for period garb without knowing where to begin, or what character to portray. Other than the corset, I wasn’t familiar with any of the garments. I perused the vendors’ fare, and realized as a newbie, maybe I’d be better off learning a little more online.

Besides, the first knight’s competition was beckoning! On to Bosworth Field to behold the challenges won by the chivalrous Sir William and the evil Sir Tristan. These two would battle it out during the final joust.

Midday, we devoured pulled pork and bacon on a stick at Swashbuckler’s Grove and reveled in the rhythmic melodies of my favorite faire musicians Circa Paleo. Their combinations of Celtic and varied world music are as captivating as their lovely violinist.

The fire-eater drew me in like a car wreck. I opted to capture the crowd and its reactions, but then my eyes would still divert back to him touching those flaming torches to his tongue.

A little less dangerous were the cute border collies and their amusing trainers. The black and white jester husband and the colorful clown wife commanded the three pooches to navigate tunnels, jump hurdles and even rescue a stuffed kitty from the audience. At least 100 excited little ones met the dogs post-show as their parents clicked photos.

For a shutterbug, the fete is a visual smorgasbord. The actors almost beg to be photographed, but it seemed so do most of the visitors. I’m not a fan of posed pictures, I prefer being more of an observer, yet I couldn’t resist snapping Gene Simmons of KISS!

My eight-year-old daughter really came alive during the explosive evening joust. Her voice rose above the masses repeatedly screaming Fight for Right, Fight for Right in favor of Sir William. Good thankfully prevailed, yet the battle’s end included a zombie element, which I hope was added in celebration of Halloween. Nonetheless, it was still quite spectacular.

The raucous finale of music, song and dancing for the Queen was crazy and fun. As it wound down, visions of Renaissance costumes floated in my head.  Perhaps I was just sleepy or maybe a bit mesmerized, but tapestries, colors and fabrics; skirts and dresses; hats and flowers; even swords and daggers were consuming my thoughts.

I must, I must be properly dressed for the next faire. Oh, what to wear? Dost thou have any suggestions for thee?

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