|By Clay N Ferno|
The Renaissance Faire is still in fashion, as evidenced by my recent voyage to Carver, Massachusetts’ (aka The Carvershire) King Richard’s Faire.
The 34th Season of the Faire’s medieval revelry, turkey leg meals and large cat viewings grows ever-popular with the cosplay crowd and special events peppered throughout the eight New England weekends shows no sign of slowing down.
Perhaps my very own faux chainmail Knights Templar costume ($41.99) and gleaming knight broadsword ($8.99) added to my enjoyment to this year’s Faire, or perhaps it was just something in the mead served cold that made the day most glorious.
We witnessed Highland Hunks lift their kilts for judgement, we saw Jack Lepiarz break a Guinness Book of World Records whipping record. And of course, there were mighty cats.
What follows is a Knight Templar’s experience in King Richard’s court!
The leg is delicious yet salty and but even with a handle the leg is difficult to eat.
This year, I opted for the shepherd’s pie while m’lady ate one of the most gigantic and square cheese pizza slices I have ever seen for that many tickets.
That’s right, tickets.
You must trade your gold and US Dollars for tickets that may be used for amusements, food, drink, ice cream, half-sour pickles, nuts and many other treats at King Richard’s kingdom.
Perhaps this is to ensure that no bandits make way with your purse, but for practicality reasons, the safety of the vendors must be on the King’s mind (this becomes clear after seeing how many ales fellow Faire goers are able to consume in a day)!
We wouldn’t want our buxom barmaids to be taken at sword points!
Do please bring a few dollars to tip the barmaidens and barmen. They work hard to combat your thirst!
Take your drinks like we did over to Dragonwick Castle, a regrettable place with the “History of Torture” exhibit.
I say regrettable as I believe my partner was taking notes the whole time and she even started to draw pictures of what she saw in there. Outside of the castle we took our traditional pictures in the mock-stockade (mockade?) and faux-Iron Maiden.
Dragonwick Castle — ’tis a silly place.
After this respit, our herd made it to our first show of the day, Jacques Ze Whipper. Jacques’ alter ego is that of a WBUR anchor and reporter, but for autumn weekends he honors his family circus tradition by performing stunts with a whip.
We were lucky this day to see him stand before King Richard and official Guinness timekeepers to crack his whip 260 times in one minute, beating the previous record of 257. Follow Jacques on Twitter to find out the official results of the world record, as more verification is required in their end (though one wonders if this scorekeeping happens in the venerable Guinness brewery itself)!
Another special treat for the day was over at the King’s Stage — a role reversal of sorts. The ladies were given a treat of sexualizing and oggling the Scottish males of the species in the Highland Hunks competition. To be clear, this was at least a 17+ show with ‘adult situations’, and no one had to show papers to prove they were Scottish. On the contrary, the only requirements were that you had to wear a kilt (and these days, most stage hands and riggers can easily fall into this category).
Three lady performer judges from the aerial stage were tasked with laying down as the men walked over them for one of three categories. Muscular, Full Kilt (sashes and adornments with Tartan Colors) and Best Kilt. The ladies and the (very gay) King played fast and loose with the rules, especially when a flexing Adonis with no kilt but a killer six-pack took the Muscular competition.
A spry and shirtless young Michael took all this day, the last survivor of the hazing that included shoe mirrors, climbing up a ladder to spectators below, and other ‘feats of strength’. A couple of black leather adorned Black Knights next to us in the audience made comments about how it was “Only fair the ladies got this chance to put men through this”, but what was curious was how engaged these Knights were in the results certain aspects of the competition. Maybe these brave sir knights will trade in the leather for a chance to have their inner thighs examined next year!
Not everything is record breaking or male sexploitation at the Faire. Mostly there are minstrels playing flutes, plenty of activities for the kids and an entire arcade of analog games that includes axe throwing, knife throwing, archery and ‘be your own Sam Malone’ with a Mug Slide game. Some wooden rides are akin to what you might see at a regular amusement park, but are human powered as leaves fly in your face and spin about.
Don’t forget to visit a vendor to leave KRF with felted hats, glassware and even knives forged from 1400 degree ovens right before your eyes.
Don’t have a costume and feel out of place? You can certainly find, rent or buy clothing from Prince to Wench costumes at the Faire itself. No need to stick out like some future time-traveller (Though you may see Doctors in long scarves and tailored suits may be seen at the Faire, for Timey-Wimey reasons).
The piece de la resistance of Faire competition, pomp and circumstances happens throughout the day and lastly at the Joust to the Death on the Tournament Field. Yes, real live horse powered jousting is replaced by catching rings upon lances. Obviously the King wouldn’t allow real bloodshed on the field, (merely because insurance paperwork is hard to fill out with a quill and dip well).
Depending on what quadrant of the field you may be watching at, some kindly proto-cheerleaders assign you a knight and your colors to wave of during the joust. Two or more very nervous looking knaves hold aloft rings for the Knights to catch as they head toward each other (in their own lanes) on opposite ends of the field. One version of the ring catching is ‘Stationary’ meaning that the knave lets go when the ring is on the lance. The other is ‘Midair’, as the serf tosses the ring to be caught by the knight as he rides by. One can imagine the Dargonwick Castle style torture one of these assistants receives if he or she is a bad ‘pitcher’.
The rules aren’t nearly as difficult as wackbat (divide that by nine please!), the knight with the most rings on his lance is called called the victor. We can only assume a nasty fate (such as emptying the privy—or worse, counting the day’s food tickets) awaits the loser. At least he’s not dead yet.
New Englanders should check out the remaining weekends with the entire family, or put this on your calendar for fall fun next year. No October is complete without a trip back in time!