Like quite a few of my friends, I’m a big fan of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, an opinion for which I’ve received mocking by other friends. The stereotype of Renn Fest goers seems to be Medieval-obsessed geeks living in fantasy worlds. No offense if you do consider yourself part of this category! I, however, see the Renaissance Festival less as an opportunity to escape modern life than a chance to enjoy food, drink, crafts, friends, and just have fun in a beautiful outdoor setting. Maryland’s Renaissance Festival is one of the oldest and largest around, and it truly offers something for everyone, from hardcore Medieval history enthusiasts in costume to adults and children just looking for a fun fall experience.
The Renaissance Festival is located in Crownsville, Maryland, just outside Annapolis. It is set in a wooded area called Revel Grove and decorated to resemble a 16th century village. Throughout the village are food and craft stands and stages hosting various musical and theatrical performances. There is also a jousting ring and a costume rental booth. If you’re looking for modern conveniences, rest assured this version of the Middle Ages also features ATMs and port-o-potties.
One of my favorite things about Renn Fest is the food. Renaissance festivals are probably most famous for turkey legs, but Maryland’s offers something for pretty much any taste. After the turkey legs, food on a stick seems to be most popular, from steak-on-a-stake to chicken kabobs to macaroni and cheese on a stick. Yes, that’s macaroni and cheese! (It’s fried and breaded). Other options include sandwiches, seafood, pasta, and plenty of desserts, not to mention ale, wine, mead, and beer.
The Renaissance Festival is also a popular venue for local craftspeople to peddle their goods, from clothing and jewelry to wood carvings, pottery, and glassware. 2010’s vendors include Dragon Wings of Easton, selling hair ornaments, jewelry, and marionettes, dragonstuff, featuring whimsical dragon prints, and the Bee Folks, producers of creams, lotions and lip balms made of beeswax, among many others.
The Renaissance Festival features many of the games you would expect to find at a carnival or state fair – but with a Renaissance twist. So a ring toss game is called “Lord of the Rings.” A dunk tank becomes “Drench a Wench”- not surprisingly, one of the festival’s most popular attractions. In place of darts there are options like knife-throwing and archery. There is a whole section devoted especially to children, or “wee bairns,” including slides and a rock-climbing wall.
The 2010 Maryland Renaissance Festival is open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm every weekend through October 24th. Tickets at the gate are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors ages 62 and older, and children ages 7 to 15; children 6 and under are admitted free and special group pricing is available. For more information, visit the festival website at http://www.rennfest.com.