Saturday September 26, 2015 Previous Post:
Crownsville, Maryland Rain, Neighbors, Food and Problem Mats
Carrie and I have made plans to meet at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville Maryland at 9:30 am this morning to see the opening ceremonies for this week-end’s Faire. It’s a 150 mile drive for me so I’m up and out early. I have to do the beltway around DC which isn’t too much fun but at this hour on a Saturday morning, the traffic is only terrible, not outrageous.
If you were ever a child who liked to dress up be it a Princess or a Cowboy, this is your place. It’s also a top of the line people watching venue. As you can see, we do both starting even before the Festival opens. I wish I hadn’t had my sunglasses detracting from my great silver spider web necklace. It spends its life in the costume box and only gets to come out for Halloween/Samhain and Ren Faire.
These two little girls have on their princess and fairy outfits and are quite interested in the shoulder animal being worn by a woman whose costume seems to be horns.
Some of the costumes are quite elaborate These people are not employees of the faire with costumes provided. They are just folks who have spent a lot of money to dress up. A reenactors sort of thing, I suspect they are here perhaps every week-end. There is a season long pass available.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival began in 1977 and I’ve been attending it for most of that time until we went on the road in 2010. There are Renaissance Festivals all over the country. You can find one in just about any area you visit. For a list of Festivals, check here to see if there is one near you. Wiki also has a list indicating whether their site is permanent or not. The best faires, I think, have permanent sites. They all have a specific time period and a “story” for each year’s festival.
The Maryland Festival’s time period is Tudor England and its story always has to do with King Henry VIII and his various wives. The king makes a yearly visit to this village of Revel Grove in Oxfordshire England as part of his “annual summer progress”. This year the story takes place in 1525. King Henry VIII with his Queen, Katherine of Aragon and their royal court visit the village.
This year’s story from the Official Festival Program:
“The King, Queen and courtiers arrive in the village of Revel Grove to meet distinguished foreign visitors. These include the Imperial Ambassador Jehan Jonglet, Georg von Frundsberg, victor at the Battle of Pavia who captured France's King Francis, and a visit from the Queen's sister, Juana of Castile. This is especially surprising since Juana has long been confined to rooms at the convent of Santa Clara in Castile. The Queen assumes it is good news about the impending marriage of her daughter, Princess Mary, and Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor who is also Juana's son. Juana has been known as Juana the Mad. She doesn't seem to be crazy, but angry. And given her forced confinement, she has every reason to be!”
This morning we are all waiting outside the gates for the arrival of the royal party to begin the festivities. Up on the city walls are the Mayor, his very young and very silly wife Imogene, the mayor’s son and his wife, both about the age of Imogene and the town crier who is spouting decrees and welcomes.
The story continues…”Love, marriage, and children are on the minds of everyone in the court and village. Mayor Francis Yaxley has made a surprising marriage to the young and beautiful Imogen Ickford. They have been blessed with a baby boy. Walter Yaxley has been knighted and promoted to Justice of he Peace in Oxfordshire. He returns with his wife, now Lady Isobel, and news that they too have a new son. It seems everyone has a new baby boy. Except the King. And this greatly troubles him.”
Those who know their British history, know that these “troubles” of the king spell troubles for all of his wives.
Soon the King and Queen and their party arrive, always on horseback of course.
Make way, make way for the King!
Fred Nelson has been playing King Henry for as long as I can remember. He’s fantastic at it and I just can’t imagine this festival without him.
We are very close when the King stops to address the mayor of Revel Grove and hear about his new young wife and all the new sons . Check out the footman’s shoes.
The queen looks on adoringly or is that amusedly? She clearly has no clue what’s in store for her.
The gates open, the Royal Party enters the town and the Faire begins.
Although it may not look like it from the map, the town of Revel Grove is an easy place to get turned around in. I have a terrible time every time remembering what is where and how to get from here to there.
Inside the town gates, there are so many things to do and see you’d better have a plan before you get here. There are shows, performances, dramas, music, comedy, jousting, human chess just to name those that come to mind as I write.
If you really want to see the variety take a look at the entire Entertainment Schedule, the description of the Stage Acts and Shows, the listing of all the Musicians and Dancers as well as the enormous house cast. You will be absolutely amazed at the number of people who enable this production which goes on every week-end for all of September and October. If you live anywhere nearby, you still have time to catch it. Well worth the time and money.
I’m expecting this particular week-end is going to be even more packed with people than usual since not only will the Mediaeval Baebes singing group from England be performing but Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander Series, will also be here. I am a big fan of the Baebes and although I haven’t seen the TV series, I have read the Outlander Books. So it’s going to be a fun day for me.
Much of the early Outlander Series takes place in Scotland so there are lots of men in kilts here today. One of them says he’s as close to “Jamie Frasier” as any of we ladies are going to get. Big laugh from the Outlander fans.
The town crier is ringing his bell and making his announcements as we walk on into town.
People watching is good here while we wait. I love the audience in costume.
There are some whose costumes are rather permanent. I guess they wouldn’t be costumes in that case.
In keeping with the Scottish theme, Cu Dubh, performing at another spot in town later in the day, is the “opening act”. Their mix of Highland Bagpipes and powerful drums feels like tribal music.
They play the theme from the Outlander TV series to huge cheers from the audience.
Following Cu Dubh, the Mediaeval Baebes come out and do one song as a teaser for their concert which follows Gabaldon. Not sure who has the most fans here in this audience, the musicians or the author but the place is packed.
Last year the Baebes did a US Tour. We were near Tampa in December when I found out they were going to be there but tickets were sold out. I am particularly happy to be able to see them here.
For the teaser, they do the very best rendition of Auld Lang Syne I have ever heard. Normally, it’s not a song I am particularly fond of but this has a golden touch.
And then Diana Gabaldon is introduced and reads for us an excerpt from the 9th book in the Outlander Series which she is currently writing. She says it takes 3-4 years to research and write. She has the audience laughing and in the palm of her hand with the selection she has chosen. These are mainly big fans who need no introduction to the continuing cast of characters.
After the reading, she is interviewed by the journalist husband of the Faire’s entertainment director. Gabaldon is charming, witty and obviously very well educated. Her father was an Arizona State Senator for 16 years, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, a masters degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Behavioral Ecology. When asked what that has to do with her body of work she says it taught her how to do all the intense research required for her Historical Fiction books. Actually, her works are hard to categorize and have been cataloged as Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Adventure and Sci Fi/Fantasy. She’s won awards for them in multiple categories.
Carrie has read none of the Outlander Series but she tells me she finds Gabaldon very impressive and is going to pick up the first of the books and give it a whirl.
As the interview concludes, the king stops by to knight Lady Diana as a jewel of the realm and escort her out to sign her books. What a riot! The King shows up everywhere. Of course Henry wouldn’t miss an opportunity to be with a lovely woman.
Off they go to the book signing. Many of her fans leave with her. Carrie and I hold our seats for the concert to follow.
And here they come, the Mediaeval Baebes. The group is a classical choral ensemble founded in 1996. I discovered them here at the Festival a short time later and have been coming to see them every time they are on the schedule. Their music is exquisite, their presence ethereal. They set romantic and mediaeval texts to original scores and sing in what is described as “an impressive array of obscure and ancient languages”. I would love to hear them with Loreena McKennitt.
The women play a variety of mediaeval instruments. Katherine Blake, below, is one of the founders of the group and its chief composer/arranger.
Not exactly sure what the bowed instrument in the back is, but the front is a hurdy gurdy.
Members of the audience enjoying the music.
Their music is often acapella or has a solo instrument accompaniment.
As usual, a GREAT show and now - Time for lunch! There is such a variety of things to eat that we can’t decide. This booth has everything you can think of on a stick. We opt for the sausage but the man in front of us has macaroni and cheese on a stick and bacon on a stick. I wonder where the paramedics are for all the heart disease that will be the result of this food. Not sure most people here can say, like I do, that this is definitely not my usual mealtime fare. But when in Revel Grove……….
Heart attack on a stick.
After lunch, we walk on down the way to see what else is going on today. We are people and costume watching all the way of course. We are actually headed to find a group of traveling minstrels. Carrie has a friend who, with her parents, work the Renaissance Faire Week-ends as period musicians.
We pass the jousting field where there is some sort of sword play beginning. No knights in armor yet. Notice the giant checker board.
Looks more like the mad hatter to me. I think that was a bit later than the 16th Century. How about those fingernails?
As we are walking down the street, here comes the king. His majesty graciously allows Carrie to take my picture with him. Interesting unintentionally similar hand gestures. What a hoot!
Scottish Highlanders on the left and a fairy with wings on the right? Or??
It appears the Pope’s has included the Renaissance Faire in his visit to the east coast.
We find the trio we are seeking, Kristin Rebecca and her parents Susan and Bob Meyer. They perform together as Painted Trillium. Their beautiful period instruments need a more enclosed venue I think. They play quite a variety of instruments: harp, hammered dulcimer, Irish whistle; octave mandolin, guitar, bodhran. The sounds are beautiful and intimate. Their music as a trio is mainly Celtic and Kristin also performs as a harp and vocal soloist throughout the two month season.
You will never be hungry here in Revel Grove. Not only are their numerous food booths on every street but there are traveling vendors as well.
These fortune tellers are hawking their skills to passers by. Palmistry, tarot, runes and lip prints? What in the world are lip prints?
As you can see from the pictures there are many possibilities for a brew for those of you who enjoy. You can carry it with you as you stroll or several taverns serve and have musical groups playing throughout the day. Lots of folks with cups in their hands as well as electronic anachronisms.
This is only half of our wonderful day at the Festival. The weather is gorgeous and the attention grabbing sights are everywhere we look.
But this post is long enough…..I’ll leave you perhaps wondering with me, what is that giant circular thing the yeoman has over his back. Hope you’ll comment and let me know if you have an idea. I’ll finish up our great day in my next post.
One last thing – isn’t Crownsville just the most perfect name for a town with a Tudor England Renaissance Faire?