A Faire Comparison

I mentioned yesterday that I would compare the Minnesota Renaissance Festival to the two that I’ve previously attended in Texas.  (Those would be Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie and the Texas Renaissance Festival in Conroe.)  I’ve thought about it a bit and here you go!

My overall impression of all three festivals is similar, and if you’ve ever been to a Faire you know what I mean.  There are dirt and mulch paths, permanent structures for the shops filled with pottery, jewelry, artwork and clothing.  There are a mix of people in costume and in street clothes, of all ages and sizes.  There are similar options for entertainment, including musicians, jugglers, and belly dancers. (My favorite Renn Faire performer, who goes to Scarborough but not TRF, was there.  I went to two of the Tory Steller’s shows!)   I think Minnesota is a little smaller than the two Texas festivals, but not by a lot.  I had a couple of moments that reminded me vividly of the inspiration for the scene I wrote in Dragon. 

There were three notable things I was expecting, based on my previous Faire-going experience, that I didn’t see.  Both of the Texas festivals make a big deal about their Court.  The King (or Queen, depending on the festival) is pictured on their advertisements and claims a prominent place in the daily parade, and the members of the court make scheduled appearances throughout the day,  I don’t recall seeing any mention of the royalty for the Minnesota Faire, and if their nobles were out and about, they were not well advertised.

Another thing that surprised me, as a bird nerd, was the lack of a falconry show or even demonstration.  At TRF, the falconry show has its own stage, and at Scarborough the stage is even in a place of prominence.  Both sites allow for large crowds with lots of benches, and there are several presentations throughout the day.  They are done by different people (from two different rehab/education facilities) but it is a notable part of both faires.  I didn’t see any mention of falconry at the Minnesota festival.

Honestly, I didn’t realize the lack of royalty until today, and I didn’t notice the lack of falconry until part of the way through the festival.  I enjoyed my day regardless of these two things.  The third thing I noticed that really surprised (and irritated) me is the lack of restrooms.

Both TRF and Scarborough have permanent, actual bathrooms with running water.  It’s not period, but neither are credit card machines.  🙂   Minnesota Renaissance Festival has banks of port-a-potties, with sinks that run from a hose.  I suspect this comes from its location at a working quarry (there is probably limited water service) but it was still not what I was expecting.  it also made life a bit challenging in a costume. 

Despite these differences, I did have a good time.  I suspect the four-hour drive will limit the number of visits I make to the Faire, but I could foresee tying it into a longer weekend with other activities in the Twin Cities area. 



Texas Renaissance Festival!

I love the Renn Faire.  I’ve gone every year since I graduated from college.  Some years I’ve gone more than once!

I went on Sunday to the Texas Renaissance Festival.  It’s so much fun!  I got a tiny henna butterfly done on my wrist, in almost the same place as I plan to get a commemorative tattoo once Butterflies takes off.  (The tattoo is a reference to a part of the story.  If you want to know more, read the book!)  I ate tasty Faire food – my favorite is sausage on a stick – and I watched several fun shows.  I went to the bird show (of course) where I predicted every single bird before it was brought out simply based on the Royal Falconer’s description.  After three years I finally gave in and bought a CD of Tartanic, the only musical act at the Faire that I make it a point to watch.   And of course, no visit to the Texas Renaissance Festival is complete without attending the Dead Bob Show.  I believe it is a requirement before you are allowed to leave.

There are many moments in my stories that draw inspiration from the Faire.  Dragon has two entire sections that take place at a fictional Faire, and the concept for the book itself was inspired by a necklace that I purchased at the very first Faire I attended.  (I stopped by the booth where I bought the necklace eight years ago.  The two guys I talked to were excited that I’d written a story inspired by their work, and asked me to let them know when it was available.)  I’ve gotten ideas for clothing from costumes I’ve seen on people and for sale.  There’s even a fight scene in Butterflies with a defensive move that I learned at a Faire!

It’s always a good place to visit as a fantasy author.  Great people watching, great fun, and a wealth of possible inspiration!