Friday, May 30, 2008

Ren Faire

The Virginia Renaissance Faire is back at the Lake Anna Winery, weekends through June 15. We’ve visited the Faire a few times in the past, and made a return visit last weekend. The Faire is staffed by volunteers who inhabit finely honed Elizabethan alter egos, and we know a few people who work it each year, so it’s fun to drop in on them while they’re in character.

Many of the fairgoers are Ren Faire regulars, who enjoy dressing up (there’s a costume contest for patrons every day) and interacting with the players. We don't dress up (although my son did a stint one summer as a musician, and I learned enough about Elizabethan dress to figure out how to sew the requisite puffy shirt and knickers), but we enjoy strolling the fairgrounds, visiting the vendors, checking out the shows on the various stages, and people watching. If you’re game, faire players are always looking to draw visitors into the fun, so go prepared to join in a song or a dance, to visit with a noble, or chat with a villager. Kids get their own knighting by the Queen herself (photo above).

My favorite stop is the tavern, partly for the entertainment, and partly for the beer. They had beers from Charlottesville’s Starr Hill Brewery on tap, and entertainment that featured bawdy minstrels and singing pirates...for me, an unbeatable combination. In addition, there’s entertainment of one sort or another going on all day: musicians, magicians, storytellers, shows, demonstrations, games, greyhounds, and at the end of the day, a joust. There are vendors selling Ren Faire-ish gear you might not find anywhere else (chain mail bikini top, anyone?), and food of the not-quite Elizabethan variety. The Ren Faire at Lake Anna is smaller scale than some faires, but it seems to be thriving at the winery, and with admission only $7 for adults, it’s definitely worth a visit. Tip: most of the “village” is in a sunny field, and is best enjoyed on a day that isn’t sweltering hot.

Arrr, matey, them be singing pirates:

I'm not sure if alpacas are Elizabethan, but they're sweet and pettable:

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