Mason's friend Rosemary had never been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival before, so, despite the 90 F / 32.2 C degree temperatures, we decided to take her on Sunday. Likely filed under "things you didn't know about Lyda" is the fact that, back in the late 1980s, I used to work as a performer out at the Ren Fest. I wore a big, red, curly wig, a costume sewn by my mother, and went by the stage name "Nut Meg." (You can't actually see my face very well in this photo. I may have to find another one. But this is me, in either 1987 or 1988--I believe those are the only two years I worked as a performer out there.)
But, at any rate, because I used to work out there, I made two teenagers get up early so that we could arrive in time for 'opening gate.' One of the things Rosemary, who is a HUGE fan of the Minnesota State Fair, wanted to know is, why did Mason and I like Ren Fest better? Her point, which is a valid one, is that they're a lot the same: crowded, expensive, food oriented, and full of stuff you don't really need to buy, but that is fun to look at. For me, the answer is the entertainers. The shows--but particularly things like opening gate--are these dorky, improv experiences. Opening gate is a free show and, technically, so are all the others (though the performers pass hats because at lot of them do make their living doing the Ren Fest circuit.) There isn't anything quite like that at the State Fair.
Plus, my people are there.
In fact, Mason summed up the difference pretty succinctly: "It's nerdier."
And, that's really it. I would probably like the State Fair, if it was the nerd fest Ren Fair is. Don't believe me? While we were waiting for the opening gate show to start (I always miscalculate how long it will take me to get from St. Paul to Shakopee.) I noticed this guy:
Ren Fair Deadpool is exactly the kind of person who would never cosplay at the State Fair. What does State Fair Deadpool even look like? (Okay, probably now that I've asked, someone has done this and knows EXACTLY what Minnesota State Fair Deadpool would look like.) But, the point is, Ren Fest is like a science fiction/fantasy convention with a middle ages theme, outdoors, that lasts for several weekends, plus great food. I literally don't know why anyone would go to the State Fair, when you can have the State Fair x Nerds = Ren Fest.
Plus, what was the thing that Mason and Rosemary loved the most? "Zilch." Zilch is this performer who tells fractured fairy tales in Spoonerisms. This is such a nerd thing, I can't even. There's so much to see, too. We also watched Fandazzi do their fire dancing:
It's kind of hard not to have a good time out at Festival, IMHO. I mean, it was so hot I was SWELTERING, but I really wanted to stay until 4:30 pm so the kids could see Zilch do his version of Romeo & Juliet, since they're both studying that in English this year. But, I just couldn't make it. How I used to pull full day performances out there, I have no idea. This may be why I only lasted a few years. (Actually, I know it's why. Working Fest was the only time in my life that I had a doctor hand me a prescription with one word on it: "Sleep.")
Also, for the first time since the 1980s, I actually sat through the entire jousting show. That's actually a kind of amazing thing.... they really do run at each other in full gallop and break their lances. It's very clear that some of it is staged, but, even knowing that, doesn't diminish the excitement of it.
Alas, I only got a still shot:
Anyway, that was my weekend. How are you?