That was the solicitation shouted out, in an overly-thick British accent, by the attendant at the pillow-fight game at the Sterling Renaissance Festival yesterday. I'm happy to report that on balance, a wonderful time was had by all, even though our day at the Festival was cut short by a persistent rain that set in about 5:00 pm. We stuck around for the 6:00 joust, watching from beneath the eaves of the waxworker's shop, although we passed on dinner at the Festival. Life affords fewer finer pleasures than sitting in the grass as the sun dips behind the hills and dining on street food prepared "Renaissance style" while guys in armor on horseback tilt at one another on the field before you, but the sad fact is that street food stinks in the rain. Oh well. We arrived at the Festival shortly before 11:00 am, so we had a good seven hours there. Good for us. Next year, we hope to go in costume. I'll try to have pictures up sometime next week, after the film gets back.
Random thoughts on our day at the Festival and our drive there and back again (now, what does that remind me of?):
:: We drove most of the way to the Festival on the New York State Thruway. We drove back on regular, toll-free roads. I like the toll-free roads better.
:: I have to note that driving through towns in Upstate NY gets more and more depressing every year. Every town has a "business district" that consists of a bunch of empty buildings. It's really pretty sad. I was especially saddened to note that, on our drive home, we found ourselves at the very foot of Irondequoit Bay. There's a building there that once housed a restaurant, but now houses nothing. That restaurant would have had one of the most gorgeous views in New York State, and it's closed. So here in New York we've managed to create a business climate that actually refutes the longstanding notion that "location is everything".
:: If you're going to go to a Renaissance Festival in costume, great! But you gotta make some effort, folks. No, you don't have to go all-out super-elaborate, like the guy in the full-bore Knights Templar armor, but you do have to not spoil the illusion. That means being in costume from head to toe. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and then throwing a velvet cape on over the top of this, doesn't cut it.
:: And I would be remiss if I didn't admit that I've rarely wanted to punch a complete stranger more than the two doofuses who showed up to a Renaissance Faire dressed as Superman and Spiderman.
:: God sure likes to send mixed messages, doesn't he? He gives us this faulty, violent world -- and he also gives us Renaissance Festivals frequented by busty young women in corsets.
:: OK, folks, I know that it's one of the greatest examples of the comedic art, in any form. I know that it's absolutely hilarious and magnificent, and I know that the temptation to quote from it can be hard enough to resist in real life*, much less in a setting like a Renaissance Festival, when that temptation can become overwhelming. I get it, folks.
So it's with nothing but love and heartfelt concern that I inform you that walking around shouting quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail like "I'm bein' repressed!" and "Ni!" is the Renaissance Festival equivalent of shouting "Freebird!" at a rock concert. Don't do this, folks. Wandering through a Renaissance Festival with your friends, pretending to debate the airspeed of an unladen swallow, is just shooting fish in a barrel. Don't do it.
* A litmus test I sometimes use at The Store is, when I'm pushing around this big gray cart that I use to collect full trash bags from our trash cans, to intone "Bring out your dead!" If you laugh, you're golden.
:: I didn't buy as much stuff as I'd kind of hoped. Much, if not all, of the merchandise is hand-made, and is all very beautiful. I'd love to own a pewter tankard from which I'd quaff my ales, but I can't yet justify $75 for such a thing. I was planning to get back to one earthenware maker's shop whose wares I'd liked the look of the first time through, but the rain at the end of the day pretty much put that thought out of my mind. Oh well. There's always next year. I did buy The Wife a stoneware mug for coffee, and The Daughter got a princess hat and a woven pouch to wear around her neck and a couple other trinkets. I bought a few notecards from this artist. This is what I love most about the Renaissance Festival scene: in a world where everybody's buying the same mass-produced stuff at Target and Wal-Mart, what a fine pleasure it is to buy something that someone made, and to hand my money for the item to the person who made it.
:: If you want to see grace, craftsmanship, and artistry on display all at one time, find a master glassblower and watch him or her in action. It's truly amazing. Would that I had been able to afford his wares!
And so ended our day at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. Folks, I can't recommend this event highly enough, if you have any kind of Romance in you at all. Maybe we can even make it a BloggerCon next year! (OK, that was a goofy thought. But still, it's a wonderful place to go.)