Once more into the breach, dear friends, and I’ll be done with my report on Ye Olde Scarborough Renaissance Festival. While the bulk of this particular entry will be devoted to photos (primarily from the Grande Parade), there are a few more things I’d like to point out.
One thing you’ll need to check out is the glassmaking exhibit, which (much to my irritation) I was unable to get any decent pictures of. This blurry image of the glassblower rolling a molten blob of glass is about the best I could do. The pictures of everything else — including the roaring furnaces — didn’t really come out.
Aside from that, there was this nice little foundry, where they work metal.
Nothing much was going on while I was there, except that a lady was pounding some kind of fine, red-brown powder into a set of square wooden forms with a mallet. I have no idea what she was doing, unless she was making bricks or something.
One thing you’ll need to know about Scarborough is that, like all such enterprises, it’s relentlessly mercantile. Expect to pay State Fair type prices for just about any item of food or drink; and since you’ll doubtless be at the festival for hours and hours, you’ll probably need to grab something. Aside from all this, though, most of the place is dedicated to selling items of all types, and the prices are just as modern as the items are medieval. For example, taken these pretty dresses. They’re as historically accurate as all get-out, probably take forever to make, and they cost hundreds of dollars, on average.
On the other hand, you could get just about anything else there, including a lot of stuff that you wouldn’t be able to find down at the local Wal-Mart. For example, Angel Sword, where you can get a razor-sharp functional blade (of just about any historical type from anywhere in the world) rather than one of those cheesy cheap swords they sell at Cutlery World in the mall. The difference is that the cheesy sword costs maybe $50; the real deal will set you back several thousand. That’s because they actually forge many of their swords, though some are machined. Or, if you prefer, try some leather armor. My sister’s friend is married to a fellow who produces items like this one.
Sure, it might not stop a bullet, but it might just turn a sword enough to keep it from killing you. Fear not, though, ring mail is also available, for a rather hefty price. Besides all that, there are other games, rides, attractions, souvenirs, and the like all around, costing a pretty penny. You can enter the Yorkshire Dungeons, visit an exhibition of medieval mythical creatures, beat the hell out of someone with a padded stick, try to climb a rope ladder without falling off, try your hand at archery with real bows and arrows…well, you get the idea.
Despite all the rampant mercantilism, the saving grace is that for the entry fee, you get a lot more than than just an opportunity to spend more money. The shows are great, whether you like the turtle racing or the antics of Dr. Kaboom (the well-named alchemist), or like to see birds of prey performing aerial acrobatics and amazing feats of skill. Then there are the bards, minstrels, comedic performers, knife throwers (!), caber tossers, bagpipers (I love bagpipes, for some unknown reason), singers, and yes, even Christophe, the professional insulter. All these shows, along with various demonstrations (as at the foundry and glassblowers) are free. And let’s not forget the fact that the festival is located on lovely wooded grounds with a stream winding around one end and then flowing through the center of the Faire. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy a happy, shaded walk through a lovely faux-English Renaissance village, as it might have been if located in Central Texas.
Previously, I told you about all the photos I had from the Grande Parade. All the important folks were there. In the ensuing presentation, I’m going to present the pictures in the approximate order in which they appeared, along with occasional commentary to tell you who’s who.
So let’s see…We’ll start off with one of the first groups, which shows several young people participating, to demonstrate that this was a multigenerational affair. After him will come the infamous Ralphie the Ragpicker (who clatters rather when he walks) and the beauteous Twig the Fairy, famous for her double flute.
Och, and then there were a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of Scots marching along, including a fellow who seemed to be important in the Church.
Then there were the Swiss Royal Guard (at least I think that’s who they were) and the French King’s Musketeers. Lovely!
Of course there were brave knights on horseback as well as a few knaves or jester types, not to mention the haughty queen herself.
Then there were the many belly dancers, who I think strained the bounds of verisimilitude a bit, though the funny fellow who followed them did not. This harlequin’s name is Marquis, and when we took the pic he cried “Mug shot!” and held up up his mug.
Allow me to point out that these are just a few shots culled from dozens; the fact was, it was hard to stop taking pictures, for verily, there were so many wonders to be seen. Needless to say, we had a blast at this year’s Scarborough Renaissance Festival, and if you have a chance, I’d recommend you take the opportunity to visit. Be aware that it will be expensive to get in and get refreshments, but the real cost is in all the craft items — so you may be able to escape without getting skinned too bad.
One last time: the Scarborough Renaissance Festival is located just outside of Waxahachie, to the south of the DFW metroplex. It’s open rain or shine for eight consecutive weekends from April 5-May 26, 2008, as well as Memorial Day (May 26). Regular admission costs a whopping $19.99 for adults, and $6.50 for kids 5-12 (kids under four are free). In some cases, you can qualify for discount tickets, and of course season tickets are available. For more information, check out their website at http://www.scarboroughrenfest.com/index.html.