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By Staff | Sep 30, 2011

Never before had we seen such vast quantities of lace, ruffles and feathers! And that was just the men!

Yes, the Renaissance Festival my wife and I recently attended was a true extravaganza.

The purpose of this gathering seemed to be the celebration and recreation of a historical era of which the average citizen is only dimly aware.

And also to charge the paying public to experience some of the customs and fashions of said historical era.

One of the first things we noticed upon entering the festival was that its denizens were fascinated by danger. Within moments we had witnessed a fire breather, followed shortly thereafter by two guys juggling and throwing knives.

But ordinary knives weren’t dangerous enough for these blokes. They also tossed knives that were on fire!

Another thing I noticed was the ubiquitous and blatant misspellings. Renaissance spelling rules seem to have included adding an “e” at the end of nearly every word and using “y” instead of “i” whenever possible.

This makes lyfe difficulte for those of us who are spelling challenged. Hadn’t the folks who lived during the Renaissance period ever heard of spell check?

Unusual personages abounded. There were faeries, squires, minstrels, a royal court and its numerous courtiers. I saw a guy who was a dead ringer for Gandalf and a man decked out as the Grim Reaper. A covey of Druids convened beneath the shade of a tree.

One guy was dressed as a medieval monk, although he blew the overall effect by pushing a shiny new baby stroller.

A beefeater, who looked like he had just stepped out of the Tudor court, texted on his cell phone.

A family – a middle-aged man and wife and their two teenaged daughters – were wearing period clothing and oversized pointy ears, perhaps portraying Shrek’s cousins. I have no idea where that guy acquired such prosthetics, let alone how he managed to talk his womenfolk into wearing them.

There were plenteous food opportunities available, including the traditional Renaissance treat of pizza by the slice. One’s whistle could be wetted by traditional Renaissance bottled water and fountain sodas.

Beer is among my favorite hydration substances.

The female beer servers at the Renaissance Festival cheerfully referred to themselves as wenches and wore bodice devices that enhanced and prominently displayed their, um, bountiful feminine charms. I was uncommonly thirsty that day.

Something what bothered us was the way people talked. It wasn’t the “thees” and “thous” and “thines” sprinkled throughout conversations as much as the accents.

We have friends who are from England, so an English lilt affected by a person who hails from Minnetonka or Bloomington tends to fall flat upon our ears. It’s difficult to rise above our monotone Midwestern intonation.

We chatted with a woman whose homemade champagne-colored dress was laced and bejeweled to a mind-boggling extent. She introduced herself as Lady Spicer, baroness of Worchester and wife of Lord Gregory Spicer.

Lady Spicer explained to us that she and her husband are courtiers. I surmise that their duties include following the king and/or queen everywhere they go, kowtowing and laughing dutifully at His or Her Highness’ jokes.

In other words, it’s very similar to being a vice president in a large corporation.

An assortment of purses, pouches and even a drinking mug hung from Lady Spicer’s belt. My wife asked if she carried such items at all times and Lady Spicer replied that she did.

“Of course a real baroness would have had a handmaiden to carry these things for her,” said Lady Spicer wistfully. “I had a handmaiden until a year ago. But then she graduated from college!”

The big event of the day was an armored joust. There was a good bit of joking and posturing prior to the event, some jocular pre-joust jesting.

The actual jousting seemed quite real. The shiny knights thundered toward each other on their colossal warhorses; lances shattered on breastplates and cheers filled the air.

But it seemed as if the lances broke a bit too readily. Perhaps they were made of compressed lace.

We wandered onward. Just when I thought I had seen everything, I saw something new: a tortoise pulling a wee cart. With a tiny beer keg in the cart. This explains why some of my beer deliveries are so agonizingly slow.

This was one well-accoutered tortoise. Her little saddle held a knife and other important-looking equipment. She was even wearing a tiny tartan kilt.

And I knew it was time to go home when I began to study the tortoise more closely to determine if she was wearing a device that enhanced her feminine charms.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by email at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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