2012’s Renaissance Festival runs from September 1 through October 14 on weekends, Labor Day & Columbus Day “Celebrating 36 Years of Huzzah and Cheers” according to kcrenfest.com. New in 2012–Magical Mermaids! Barbarian Battle! Royal Pub Crawl! Etc!
Last year, Ruth and I attended RF on Sunday afternoon, September 25, the 3rd day of our annual reunion. Ruth’s cousin Kay, who lives in Kansas City, was our impeccable host, and we enjoyed all activities, until Sunday afternoon.
Seven adults in 2 cars drove to nearby Bonner Springs, Kansas, on this extremely hot day and parked in a vast field some distance from the entrance, apparently our only choice.
As I entered, I was handed something called Canterbury News containing that day’s Event Schedule. Inside was a Stage Schedule with featured entertainment, like Robin Hood Swill Pond Show. The first event listed was Mooncalf Magic at 10:30 am. The last was Mark the Harper at 4:30 pm.
“Seven Themed Weekends!” the website hollers. I looked for our particular weekend’s theme and it wasn’t obvious. The News screamed, “Irish Festival! “LegendQuest! Become an investigator in this live mystery novel, and take on the role of a Renaissance character. Chase down leads and discover the detective in you!” This might have been fun if I was in costume (no), took it semi-seriously (no way), and had been to previous fests (not the case).
Over the next 3 hours, I probably stopped 20 costumed RF participants to ask for directions and/or information, and no one knew anything. Maybe it was the heat, but they universally seemed bored.
“20 Entertainment Venues!” We tried to sample some of the scheduled performers–Clanna Eireanne Dancers, Sonic Sidhe Tribe, and O’Riada McCarty School of Irish Dance. The results + a Costume Contest were some of the reasons why I wrote “awful, dumb and silly” in my travel log. There seemed to be an internal war going on among the dancers, something having to do with who would get to perform, when, and with whom. Tempers flared and the dancing never rose above amateur.
“Live armored jousting!” We sat among hundreds facing what I assume was Royal Pavilion–Near Booth #500 watching men on horses race up and down screaming dialogue we couldn’t hear while trying to stir up excitement that never occurred.
“Food and Drink Fit for a King!” I was never tempted by the menu that I found in a booklet listing almost 100 items. This slick Renaissance Festival publication also included a very confusing map of the grounds with circling booths numbering from 115 to 547. One of the food items among the cigars, fried ice cream, and pickles was Scotch Eggs. I had to look them up–“hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried” according to Wikipedia. What I saw most people eating, almost always men with a beer in the other hand, were gigantic turkey drumsticks.
“Over 100 artisan booths!” Four of the attending cousins were women who loved shopping, and they exited without a single purchase. As we trekked back to the cars, Kay said for at least the 12th time, “This Festival used to be a lot better. Really.”
RF might have been a bit of fun if I had attended with some wide-eyed children, but I didn’t. Huzzah, indeed.