Fall is the greatest time of year. How can you beat it? It’s the time for Halloween, great weather and pumpkin everything. Oh, and perhaps best of all, it’s Renaissance Faire season!
New England is the quintessential Fall destination. Maybe I’m biased, as I’ve lived in New England my entire life, but when it comes to Fall, it truly is the most visually perfect setting for the season. We also have one of the biggest and best Ren Faires in the Northeast; King Richard’s Faire.
Variety is the key to any good Ren Faire, but what sets a good Ren Faire apart from a great one is presentation and authenticity. And when it comes to both of those things, King Richard’s Faire slays (pardon the pun). In fact, the Faire somehow manages to seamlessly transport you to another time and place.
I’ve been to other Renaissance Faires where the event is quite literally set in the middle of urban sprawl and concessions are doled out via food trucks. Who wants to buy a turkey leg from a truck? The proper response to seeing a truck at a Ren Faire should be a drawn sword and a shout to “slay that metallic beast.”
The entrance to a Ren Faire should serve as a portal to another time, place or dimension. Guests should feel as if they are leaving the modern world and entering into a new, lively center of the Middle Ages or some fantasy realm. King Richard’s Faire does it well. The event is quite literally tucked away in an 80-acre forest in Carver, Massachusetts. The fairgrounds are built within the forest, which isn’t paved, and all of the authentic, wood constructed shops and buildings remain year-round. Sure, there are some modern conveniences, like bathrooms, but those elements are so thoughtfully concealed that they never detract from the authenticity of the setting.
The Faire’s most authentic touch however comes from its performers. A full and impressive cast of characters, all fully costumed, roams throughout the fairgrounds and work in the shops and concession areas. These actors aren’t just going through the motions. Their interactions with guests are playful, silly, and always memorable. Because of this, each Faire guest leaves having had his or her own unique experience. These moments pull guests into this foreign time and place, and before long, we’re all performing to the scene and speaking with cadences straight from a Tolkien novel. It’s like being in a live, fully realized game of D&D. What’s better than that?
In that regard, the endless schedule of shows and themed days adds even more to the experience. In my years of going, I’ve found it impossible to see and experience everything, though I never miss the wandering minstrels, the Tiger show, the Mud Show, the royal parade and of course, the swordplay and horseback jousting of the Kings Tournament.
Food and drink is another essential part of the Ren Faire experience. Turkey legs are quintessential, and there’s no better way to wash them down than with a pint of beer or mead. I also enjoy the artisans selling everything from authentic costumes to incredible, hand-forged swords and daggers. Every year I vow to buy one but never do. Heavy steel swords probably aren’t the best things to have in a house of three kiddos.
This year’s King Richard’s Faire has already begun, and takes place every weekend until the end of October. There are a number of themed days and weekends. I’m looking forward to continuing our tradition of taking the whole family to the Faire’s Game of Thrones Day on September 24th. This year, we may even join in on the GOT costume contest.