Today is our last day in this area and we decide to head up north 38 miles to Sterling to be part of their Renaissance Festival. Those who know me, know I love to dress up so Renaissance Festivals are right down my alley. That said, I’ve only ever been to the one closest to me in Maryland so I’m interested to see how they are in other parts of the country. Unfortunately I did not make room in Winnona for my “dress up” clothes so today I have to go as a tourist rather than a towns person.
It’s a beautiful day and folks are gathering outside the city gates when we arrive. If you want the full effect of a renaissance faire you must be there before it “opens” to hear the greeting from the mayor, perhaps to welcome the King or Queen visiting the town, and for sure to see the cannon fire. Or at least they did those things here as well as in Maryland.
Just before opening, the mayor of the city and his family welcome everyone from the top of the city gates. Most festivals have a summer cast of between 35 and 40 actors who play parts all day long in skits and just walking around town. There is always a group of “royals”, in this case Queen Elizabeth’s Court.
The Lord of Warwick, owner of the castle is in attendance to greet the Queen. He sure looks the part. Love the moustache.
There are the villagers of the town, in this case it is Warwick in 1585.
Many Renaissance Festivals have “theme” week-ends I guess for those who like to dress up in something else. Pirate week-ends are common as are Fairy week-ends. This is Fairy Week-end and we see lots of women, children and a few men sporting wings. A fairy is in the ticket line in front of us.
She seems to have a yeoman with sword and shield as her companion. A jester leans against the city wall.
The young Knight and his Lady sister seem to have their eyes closed. Perhaps they are making wishes.
As we head into the gates I see two bananas. You just never know what you’ll see here.
Just inside the gate are the costume shops where for coin of the realm you too can dress the part.
Or you can rent a costume for the day.
You can have your hair done, mostly intricate french braiding.
We wander through the upper shire to the Festival Stage to greet Queen Elizabeth who, unlike King Henry and his wife of the year in Maryland, does not enter town on horseback through the gates of the city.
Others have gathered.
Merry making is going on.
The Earl of Warwick welcomes us all and introduces the Queen
Musicians lead her down the path.
She comes on the arm of Sir Walter Raleigh. There always was a lot of talk about those two.
Elizabeth, with her court behind her, addresses her subjects.
An emmisary from the Spanish embassador asks the Queen to come for a wine tasting.
She is shocked that the Ambassador would expect her to come to him but ultimately agrees to go.
Off she and her court and muscians go.
We wander around the town and pass by the lavender shop where the propriatress has lavender hair. David heads for the pub to see just what sort of “craft beer” is available in 1585.
The Festival opened at 10am and the Entertainment Schedule runs from the 10:15 Queens Greeting until the 6:30 Final Pub Song. There are 16 venues where something is going on for most of the hours of the day.
Since we are in the Lower Shire Bogge’s Area we wander over to the Moon Star Stage where we find the Spanish Ambassador’s emissary moonlighting with Don Juan as Miguel. It’s a full house for this comedy sword fight show.
Don Juan is apparently a pirate
The last act is a sword fight in which Don Juan is blindfolded by a member of the audience who has tried on his blindfold to attest that he cannot see. These look like real swords.
There are several old fashioned man-powered rides at the Festival. Two guys make these swings spin out.
Well this is a sight. Wonder what the guys inside thought about having a banana next to them.
I think fantasy lovers of all sorts attend Renaissance Festivals. Not sure what this shoulder creature is but adults and children are wearing them. If you know what it is and what show/movie/book it comes from, please tell us. I have a feeling I’m way out of date on this one.
There are fairy wings, large and small, everywhere.
Looks like those wings might be weighting him down. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a fairy or a dragon fly or whatever dressed in Scottish Plaid. That’s what makes these Faires so much fun. You just never know what you will see.
Now I’m really confused. Helicopter?
This unique bridge is lined with special benches on both sides.
Each bench is different. This is the Bench O’ Passion.
At one point a sweet young thing just walks up and sits down without reading. Her young companion abruptly turns away. It is seriously too funny.
Other benches are the Proposal Bench
“Set thy knee upons this mark and ask thy Love to wed,
And ere Summer’s harvest thou shalt take thy marriage bed.
And The Chastity Bench,
“If thou should’st sit upon this bench then thou shalt be an untouched wench”,
among others but the most used appeared to be the Broken Heart Bench.
There are many other things including the artisans and the food and additional no-machine-rides along with musicians which we see in the afternoon but that will be in Part II of the 40th Annual Sterling Renaissance Festival. HAZZAH!