Each Summer, my husband, his friends and I make a pilgrimage to Larkspur -home of Colorado’s Renaissance Festival. Now in its 40th year, the festival draws more than 200,000 people annually. (This year, due to scheduling, we’ll make two.)
Together, we jaunt through the facade of a medieval castle, beneath revelers perched atop the gates shouting a merry welcome. We’re greeted by players who’ve taken up a weekend job to call me m’lady. Inside, it’s dusty, dirty, sweltering and expensive. There’s little shade to be found and Colorado’s fabled afternoon downpours often turn the park into a muddy mess. (And don’t get me started about the poor elephants and big cats that serve as entertainment. It infuriates me.)
Aside from those factors, the event greatly amuses me. The poorly executed fake British accents. The token rotund woman in a chain-mail bikini. The knights in knockoff armor who’ve clearly taken a break from LARPing and marathon games of MAGIC, WoW and D&D to try their hand at capturing the hearts of fair maidens clad in fairy wings or gypsy garb.
There are pirates, church folk, tavern wenches and Robin Hoods aplenty. Lords and ladies mingle with dragons and demons. And, with LOTR’s and Game of Thrones‘ rise to fame, a visit isn’t complete without spotting a Legolas or a Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen.
Despite not fitting in with the crowd, I love the people watching. Some of the costumes are beautiful and elaborate and I respect the stamina of those wearing them. IT’S. SO. HOT. Only twice, under extreme duress, have I ever attended “RenFaire” in costume, and both times I paid dearly. (Think heat rash and migraine.)
I’m perennially disgusted by the gaggle of “gents” gorging on oversized turkey legs, the greasy juice dripping down their faces and onto their kilts. Though in truth, the food is delicious, (I’m partial to the artichokes) I’m not sure they had deep-fried macaroni triangles in the 16th Century.
“Huzzah for the tipper,” rings out on the regular as attendees guzzle flagons of wine or ale (in the form of Coors Light). Artisans beckon festival-goers into their booths to hawk their wares. That’s when it gets good.
The handiwork of the craftspeople who set up shop is simply amazing. Handmade wooden drinkware, blown glass, fantasy artwork, clothing, textiles and jewelry are just some of the offerings of the more than 200 vendors at the fair. Last year, we bought our daughter this dress (right) for just $20. She wore it until her arms got too big to fit through the armholes. We loved it.
For a wedding gift in 2012, I presented my husband with hand-forged pewter goblets featuring a pair of dragons intertwining into a single heart, a row of amethysts dotting each of their backs. A couple of years later, my husband commissioned a one-of-a-kind pair of leather boots bearing an understated purple dragon. They took months to make and are truly exquisite.
But as you might surmise, dear reader, the accessories for sale are my favorite: Rows of hand woven and painted scarves, sterling silver and gemstone jewelry glistening in the scorching sun… Sign. Me. UP.
Over the years, I’ve purchased or been bought the three pieces at left, from the same vendor. They’re gorgeous and I love them all. The Citrine dragonfly is my favorite, since it was a present from my sweetie. The other two I acquired; both are made by Peter Stone. While you can come by his enormous cache of work online, it’s fun to scoop one up at the festival to remember your visit. For me, each marks the passage of time.
I’ll likely be doing so again on our upcoming visit in a couple of weeks – after a few cups of mead and at least one Steak on a Stake. Sorry hubby, but honesty’s the best policy.