One of my favorite pictures of my parents was from their honeymoon, a wallet-sized photo my mother kept in the bottom drawer of her jewelry box. They’d gone to a festival, and my mom had managed to persuade dad into dressing up as a Renaissance noble. It was something I couldn’t really picture my father ever doing, but it was an image of him that I carried with me: a knight-errant, carrying his lover’s favor into battle.
I don’t know if it was because of that picture, but ever since I was little I had a fascination for all things Medieval– bordering on obsession, at times. I developed a love for ancient English history, Arthurian legends, Celtic and Norse mythology. I read any book that I could get my hands on that had anything to do with Europe in the Dark Ages– fiction or otherwise. When I discovered fantasy literature… well, now, I basically don’t read any other kind of fiction. I sneaked The Chroncles of Narnia out of the library and hid them under the bathroom sink, reading them a few pages at time. I did the same thing with The Lord of the Rings. When I eventually read Harry Potter three years ago . . . I was instantly in love.
You’d think with that level of obsession, I would’ve known what a Renaissance Festival was, but I didn’t. I had some vague notion of what it was, but the only thing I really knew about it was that people would swallow fire and swords, and that was about it.
Until I met Maria*.
I was at a summer academy for a month, and Maria was the first person I’d ever met that shared my love of all things fantasy. There were some activities that required semi-formal wear, and she’d brought her Lady Guenevere-style gown. I had the biggest girl-crush on her, and probably followed her around like a lost puppy. She described the Renaissance Festival she performed at every year, and that’s when I was hooked.
I wanted to go to a Renaissance Festival.
But, I knew that a public event like that was off-limits. Between the possibility of seeing a costumed man shirtless and the public drinking, it was not a place good Christian girls like me went to. It just . . . wasn’t done. It was inappropriate.
Well, I finally went to one this last weekend. Saying I was excited about it would be an understatement. I was practically bouncing off the walls. I decided to dress up as a Romani– well, the Disney version of one anyway, since I already owned a few of the elements, including a crazy colorful skirt and a peasant-ish-looking blouse. I bought a few colorful scarves, some bangles, and gigantic hoops and called it a day. I also spent the weeks leading up to it watching way too many makeup tutorials on youtube. Which, seriously, some of those are insanely fun.
The end result:
Also, the actual Festival was pretty darn incredible. The one we went to is located on a permanent fairgrounds, so all the buildings look period. There were well over a hundred vendors– one vendor, Feywood, was absolutely incredible. They make tables and lamps and chairs out of found wood, and it’s gorgeous. There was a haberdashery that made gorgeous lace-and-satin parasols, and one metalworker– Valkyrie’s Armourer— that makes custom Wonder Woman sets– crown, bracers, belt, and breastplate– and they’re amazing. There was some amazing head pieces that I tried on:
In the first part of the day, I saw a woman dressed in a beautiful velvet gown with an underbust corset, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen. When I saw it hanging in the window of another vendor–Moresca— I had to go in and try it on.
It was way out of my price range, but I felt like a princess just wearing it.
There were some fantastic shows, too– a sword-swallowing act, a joust, a hypnotist, a few comedians, and one of my favorite bands from Celt Fest was also there. It was a pirate-themed weekend, and some of the costumes were amazing. One man looked exactly like Jack Sparrow. I had to do a double take to make sure it wasn’t Johnny Depp. He got a lot of stares, I’m sure. Mostly I just had a blast walking around with people who loved something as much as I did. It was literally a dream come true.
So, what about you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but were never allowed? Did you eventually get to do it? What was it like?