Step back into history and indulge all your secret fantasies by a visit to a Renaissance Fair. The Guilford Fairgrounds were alive with color and pageantry the weekends of May 12 to June 3 as the Robin Hood Springtime Festival marched proudly in for all you milords and miladies.
With a garland of daisies firmly in place or a feathered cap, you were welcomed to dress as Robin Hood or Maid Marion for look-alike contests, or as your favorite knight, with or without full armor, or as a pirate, a fairy princess, or even a Disney character, if your fancy dictated it. Costumes are recommended but definitely not required.
Don’t worry if your closet is not up to the challenge as there were costume rentals available from festive hats, tunics, vests, cloaks, gowns and full regalia from such outfitters as Heath’s Mr. Renaissance. So whether you’ve always wanted to be Harry Potter, a chess piece, or Romeo, Heath is your man. For the last fifteen years, he has traveled to a fair every weekend on the East Coast.
If you’re not up to the masquerade route, you can always accessorize with a quaint face painting, a hand carved and painted sword and shield, a pair of dangling star earrings, a couple of horns or pointed ears or even a tail, a wizard’s wand or a knight’s helmet.
For quieter and less obvious enjoyment, you can purchase some pina colada honey sticks, a bargain at 4 for $1, soaps of lavender or macintosh apple, a healing stone to rub for luck, a glittering henna tattoo, a gourd from Mother Earth or a lovely feather rose to present to your lady fair.
To quench your hunger or thirst, the festival overflows with gourmet treats, like grilled steak on a stick or a hearty roasted turkey leg at Giant’s booth. For the more adventurous, you could partake at Sir Munch-A-Lots of fried twinkies (pastry dipped in vanilla batter and fried to a golden brown and then dusted with powdered sugar), or fried pb and j (peanut butter and jelly), fried snickers or even a fried pickle for the truly strong of stomach. Quaff down a stein of beer, mead, hard cider or lemonade and then visit the dragon who dispenses ice cream on a stick or a cone.
Activities abound so you can try your hand at darts or crossbow or archery, hurl a bat or throw an axe, as well as watch Johnny Fox swallow a sword (but don’t try that at home). The charming traveling troubadour Ellen A. Dale offered a minstrel show about Robin Hood and the villainous Prince John while Guido of the Hopeless Romantics inveigled innocent audience members on stage to help him act out the tale of Adam and Eve.
Each day was stuffed with entertainment, from Blackshear’s Curious Magic to Cirque du Sewer (a unique rat circus), Vixens en Garde (Swashbuckling Swordswomen), a Knighting Ceremony, Archery demonstrations, Spy games, Mud Slinging Ladies, Maypole dancing, Madrigals by the Village Singers, Belly dancing by the Tribal Deluna Gypsies and a Six Scene Story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
What festival would be complete without a Jousting Match between arch rivals, Sir Solomon and Sir Marcus, galloping across the tourney field, with only one victor at the end. After all that exercise, you’ll be ready to relax at a soothing chair massage.
Special dates included a Mother’s Day brunch, a Feast of the Merry, Costume Competitions, a Romance Weekend and a Pet Day (that included dogs and a lizard named Sunshine). Pets were free with a donation of two cans of dog food for a shelter. All this great fun is thanks to the festival creator and co-owner Eric Tetreault who went to fairs as a kid and loved them. He saw there was nothing like this in Connecticut and has worked to fulfill his dream.
Never fear, you may have missed this Robin Hood extravaganza (www.Robinhoodfaire.com) but it will be back next spring. Now is the time to mark your calendar for his King Henry the VIII weekend July28-29 on the Town Green in Enfield and autumn spectacular (www.ctfaire.com) King Arthur Faire the weekends of September 29-30, October 6-7-8 (Columbus Day), 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lions Fairgrounds, 347 Gilead Street, Hebron, CT. General admission is $16, youth $10, children 6 and under free, parking $3. All the magic and medieval merriment will be there so start planning your visit and costumes now.
If a day of turning back the clock is truly inspirational, think about a Renaissance themed wedding. Get thee to the faire and prepare to be enchanted.