Running from the Law: Scarborough Renaissance Festival - Dallas

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scarborough Renaissance Festival - Dallas

I'm not sure if words can even possibly begin to describe the awesomeness that
was the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas. 
This was my very first Renaissance Fair and I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Ally and I figured it could be fun...and even if it sucked, there'd be good people watching.
Understatement of the century.
While standing in line to get our tickets, we were approached by some type of Fishmonger woman, who really did smell like fish.  She inducted us into the Vanity Club -- you know, cause "we're so vain." This should have been a warning sign.

Upon walking through the gates (aka castle walls),
the very first person to greet us upon entering was this guy. 
I almost turned around and high-tailed it back to the car, but he grabbed me and posed for a picture.
I think he also might have grabbed my ass while he was at it.
Love him.
At first, it was completely overwhelming. 
Ally and I both went into sensory overload and just stood in the middle of the road,
mouth gaping open, bald-faced staring at people. 
Where in the hell were we and what had we just gotten ourselves into?
(Did we take some kind of wrong turn and end up in Middle Earth, because that girl's got pointy ears?)

Well, let me tell you...


According to the website, the Scarborough Renaissance Festival is a Renaissance-themed
festival based on the year 1533, during the reign of England’s King Henry VIII.  
It is a 35 acre 'village' (larger than most area shopping malls) within a 167 acre site. 
The festival employs more than 2,000 performers, artisans, food service people,
grounds crew, and retail staff during the course of a season. 
Annual attendance is 200,000 people!
The Scarborough Renaissance Festival is a permanent location with  21 stages,
which hosts over 200 performances daily.  
150 primarily volunteer members of the Scarborough Academy of Performing Arts
make up the performing company that become the "characters" of Scarborough
including King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn.
Three full combat jousts take place each day (jousting arena below).
Over 200 permanent "shoppes" feature unique handmade wares made by
artisans from around the country.  The Scarborough Renaissance Festival is one of the
largest outdoor "juried" craft shows in the country.


At the stores, you can get things like chainmail, leather goods, potion books,
wizard wands, fairy wings, bustiers, feathered hats, pantaloons, swords, shields,
beer steins, jewelry, candles and armour.
Ally and I opted for the most feminine items we could find.
No armor or sorcerer's wands for these girly-girls.
Although we did get told that we must be pirates because we were both carrying Canons.
Har har har har. :)

Each day, artisans demonstrate ancient arts such as glassblowing, blacksmithing, candlemaking, printing on a Guttenberg Press, leather crafting, broomaking, armor making, coin minting, etc.
But there was really only one thing we were interested in seeing....

Falconry.

(I'm serious.  Have you seen "The Falconer" on SNL.  That is some good stuff.)
The Scarborough Festival has daily falconry demonstrations conducted by John Karger of Last Chance Forever Wildlife Conservatory.  I die.
However, it wasn't quite like the SNL skit. 
Slightly disappointing.
So we moved on.
We toured a castle.
We got our palms read, which was awesome (and SO accurate it was scary).
We watched some sword-fighting.
We followed the music into a pavilion and accidentally crashed a wedding. 
Oops!
We danced with a Wood Sprite.
We watched the Scotsmen prepare for battle.
We met a knight in shining armor; he was very shy.
I got arrested.
We were almost attacked by a dragon.  Or possibly a time machine.
We found the lamas and the horses...
...the elephants and the camels. 
Although after a slightly-disturbing conversation we had with Ally's husband
that morning involving the deliciousness of camels, I can't say I'll ever look at them the same.

And speaking of food...

The Scarborough Festival has five food court areas, each offering a completely different menu selection.  Non-traditional foods include hand made pastas, seafood, stir fry, steak-on-a-stick,
Scott's eggs, Italian Ice, etouffee, empanadas, fajitas, meatball sandwiches, baklava,
quiche, pastries, and more than 60 other hearty foods.
(You know you're in Texas when even the Renaissance Festival serves Mexican.)

But we already knew what we wanted.
GIANT TURKEY LEGS!
More than 20 tons of the festival’s famous Giant Turkey Legs
 are devoured annually during the eight-weekend season.
I'll admit it right now, hands-down the absolute best Giant Turkey Leg I've ever had.


But even better than the food, better than the stores, better than the camels, were the PEOPLE. 
It was the best people watching I've ever done in my whole life. 
I just couldn't get over the costumes, the characters, the accents and language. 
Everyone spoke Old English. 
Everyone was drinking mead. 
Everyone was friendly.
No one ever broke character.
And most importantly, no one gave a shit that people were talking about them,
watching them and taking their pictures.
There was not a self-conscious soul in the whole place.
It was pretty awesome.
Everyone was happy,
everyone was having fun,
everyone felt like they fit in...
...well, other than me and Ally.
(I bet her $500 that she was the only person there in pearls and Burberry.)
Although, we tried!!
We definitely made lots of friends.
It was a VERY memorable day.

Thank you Ally for forcing me out of my comfort zone and taking me back in time.

Next year, you can be the Wood Sprite and I'll be the Fishmonger.

31 comments:

  1. OMG. I'm in love with that big black guy in the kilt. And you and Ally look like you could be sisters. Looks like a blast! :)

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    1. His name is "Sholo the Nubian", and he has his own facebook page. He is just AWESOME. Love that man.

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    2. Actually, Sholo is the one in the chain mail with the big sword, not the one in the kilt. :)

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    3. Kilt?!? Now THAT'S funny!

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    4. The man in the kilt is a fanastic guy. Handsome too. Melts my butter.

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  2. How fun! I was cracking up scrolling through all these pictures. I love how you guys really jumped right in to the Renaissance Fair spirit. I expect there will be costumes next year, right?

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  3. YES!!! I get to be the Wood Sprite!

    A. I'm DYING laughing here.
    B. I love that we crashed a wedding.
    C. Upon further investigation, it was determined that there are wedding planners on staff--this is my new goal in life.
    D. I love that you included a picture of my Scottish boyfriend.
    E. I wish we'd gotten a picture of that poor guy who was with his wife who was all dressed up and he was all "Ehh, I'm thinking jeans a t shirt for today"

    BEST.DAY.EVER!

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  4. Love this! Can't believe that I've lived in Texas (and for most of my life within an hour of Waxahachie) and have never been to the Faire. You girls are so cute!

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  5. ahh it looks like you had a great time! I havent been to scarborough fair in YEARS... but the best part about it is definitely the food!
    And from experience, all these "fun" people, they dont just act like this when they are at the fair!

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  6. Oh my gosh. That sounds like a BLAST! I really do love the whole idea of a RenFest and the one you went to is the best one I've been to (in my limited experience). You got some awesome pictures and I'm sure there are even more memories!

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  7. OOOH I love the RenFest!! We have one here every year too. I have not missed it in I don't know how long. I love people watching and it is oh so fun there. Here in AZ ours serves mexican food too lol!

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  8. I've never been to a renaissance festival but it looks like a blast, and you two are so cute. :)

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  9. What an interesting experience~your pictures are amazing, they make me wish I had a Renaissance Fair in my town!
    Thank you sooo much for your encouraging words on my blog. Seriously every time some one says they didn't hate law school, it makes me so happy!
    I would LOVE for you to do a guest post. It can be about anything, but if you need ideas just let me know and I can give you some ;) You can just email me your post at absblog123@gmail.com. You can just copy and paste your original post to the email. I think that should work (let me know if you know of a better way!) I'll post it while I'm at my camp!

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    1. You don't need one in your town... last year, the closest one I went to was 220 miles away, and the furthest was 950 miles. It's the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

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  10. Hahaha! Sounds like quite the day. There's a RenFaire every year by me, and I've never worked up the courage to go. I just may have to, after seeing all the fun you had!

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  11. loved loved loved the picks and i poked thru your recipes and see some i may have to give a try. Thanks. I"m going to follow you now and check back in from time to time. thanks again.

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  12. This looks like so much fun and now I'm craving a turkey leg!

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  13. We have a Renaissance Fair a few hours from our house- just over the Wisconsin border- Bristol Renaissance Fair. We have gone 3 of the past 4 summers, and it is AWESOME! We don't dress up either, but it's a great time none the less. I think this one is set in the time of Queen Elizabeth though, not Henry. It's so much fun, I can't wait to go this summer- you definitely see some interesting costumes. The first year we went, a lady in costume passed out because it was so hot- I don't know how they manage in those costumes when I'm sweating in shorts!

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  14. P.S. Did you think the turkey leg smelled/tasted like Ham? They always do to me!

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  15. Mrs. A (aka Katie): Most turkey legs probably smell like ham to you because the majority of places smoke theirs. Scarborough roasts theirs and then lets them steam inside coolers for a bit before serving. It makes the meat nice and tender and gives them a different flavour than most renfaires. :)

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    1. Scarby legs are awesome... (I know you...MtE here...)

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  16. As a member of the Queen's Own Highlanders, I hope that you return this year for a day of merriment. Something that you may not know is that you can rent costumes for the day. Just as you walk in, hug Shilo the Nubian, and turn to the right. There you can be whom you want for the day. Ask about the dance class in the afternoon and join in the Court Dance at 5pm.

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  17. Please do return and visit us again. It was wonderful having you at the Emperial Luncheon that day...Though if you're looking for other "Renfair Adventures in Texas" you should try the Texas Renaissance Festival just outside of Houston and Sherwood Forest Faire in Austin, there's also Four Winds Fair...*grins* but I agree with Elliott, please come and joins us!!!

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  18. Mrs. A (aka Katie), the trick with the costuming is to use natural fibers that will breathe, keeping hydrated, and if you're a lady with a hoop skirt, gently swaying either side to side or back and forth provides your own air conditioning.

    Scarborough is a wondrous place to be and well-loved by its cast and patrons alike. I've been to nearly a dozen different renaissance festivals around the country, and while most of them are AWESOME on one level or another, I've yet to encounter a cast quite as warm, interactive, and visible as the SAPA bunch.

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  19. nice camera good shot there as well as a tale to tell

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  20. The first fellow in the opening shot is Sholo the Nubian. The later fellow in the kilt is Darkness, Canoneer on Capt Marga's Infamous Privateer vessel, the Isabeau! Sorry, but he's taken by the lovely Rum Wench aboard said ship! Huzzah for a lovely review and a good time!

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    1. Kate the Rum WenchFebruary 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      We could work out a rental plan. ;)

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  21. Glad to see some faire virgins having a fabulous time. Love your photo comments. So glad you enjoyed our faire. Scarby is amazing and you must return but try to do so in garb. It is a completely different experience.

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  22. You renewed my Faire spirit, indeed!! Thank you for your open and honest view from the "other side of the fence"!! Most of us do try to do the period right and present to our guests a close replica of what life was like in that period. Although I have never worked at Scarborough, I have worked at other Faires in Texas and you picked a good one. A fun goal: visit the others for comparison. Any member of the cast of any faire would be happy to recommend other faires and the best times to visit. Welcome to Old England. We hope you come back!!

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  23. Thanks for the very positive and enjoyable recounting of your day with us last year. Come back again this year (April 7 - May 28) to try and catch what you missed last time. It's always different each time you visit.

    Cheers,
    A Scarborough Cast Member

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  24. TRF is undergoing some changes, with the new general manager trying to recapture some of the "old" TRF. It's still the biggest and the baddest... come on down Magnola way and visit us this October/November

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