RenFest 2012

I love the Maryland Renaissance¬†Festival! I think the first time I went to this event was the second or third year when it was held in Columbia. That was more than 30 years ago. It has since moved from Columbia’s Symphony Woods to Crownsville, and is a huge event, running from the end of August to the middle of October. Since we moved back to Maryland at the end of last year, I am finally able to attend again. And it has changed…

Each year I’ve attended, it seems to have grown, with more (and different) players, more stage acts, more food, and more crowds. One thing that really hasn’t changed is the amount and variety of shopping to be done. There is something for everyone here, from the very young to the … ¬†uh, not-so-young. Some of the vendors have attended for many years; others are new to RenFest. I spoke with a glass artist, Milton Townsend (miltontownsend.com), who was doing lampwork onsite, and he told me that he’s only been at RenFest for 4 years. He had several gorgeous phoenixes, and I just had to have one!

Glass Phoenix
Glass Phoenix

And the only other purchase I made (besides food and water) were some beautiful quilted bags made by my friend Patti Chung, owner of Perchance To Dream (a quilting shop) and wife of one of my dearest and most long-time friends, Winch, an artist in his own right.

Patti and Winch Chung
Patti and Winch Chung

Here they are in front of one of Patti’s lovely patchwork quilts. She also makes gorgeous art quilts and other decorative items, like the bags I bought.

Sunburst Bag
Sunburst Bag

I fell in love with the colors and design in this bag! It’s such a happy design, and the piecing is fantastic. Patti is such an artist when it comes to her work. She’s not restricted to the old-fashioned idea that things have to “match” in order to be beautiful and well-made. Her color and design sense is truly whimsical. You can’t see it from the above image very well, but this bag has clusters of cloth flowers where the strap attaches to the sides of the bag. Another thing you can’t see is the denim pocket under the flap, which holds my cell phone perfectly. I’ve already transferred the contents of my old, commercially made purse into this bag, which is fully lined.

But while I was wandering around her shop, this bag literally JUMPED off the rack at me:

Stonehenge Bag
Stonehenge Bag

Since it went to all that trouble, I felt obligated to buy it, as well. This bag has a beautiful pieced flap (with sparklies! And a bit of velvet!) featuring an image of Stonehenge in the center, with a metal Celtic charm and fabric roses at the bottom of the flap. I love the batik and crazy quilting on this one! The leather strap has swivels on each side. The bag body is made out of an upholstery weight fabric, and is fully lined.

As usual, the festival was crowded. Luckily, it was a beautiful day, the temperature was mild, and the sun’s heat was tempered by a few clouds, but no rain.

Crowds
Crowds
More crowds
More crowds

So many guests came dressed in garb (i.e. costume), it was sometimes difficult to tell the guests from the players.

Guests (I think)
Guests (I think)

There was a great variety of costumes, as well. Everything from accurate Period costuming to fantasy garb, to faeries, to pirates. There was even one gent dressed as The Doctor (from Doctor Who) today. Here are a few of the Players I managed to get some shots of:

Their Majesties
Their Royal Majesties, King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon
Jester
A jester on stilts, with a rig that made him look like a baby on a chair
Kilt Boy
Kilted Flower Monger
Singers
Singers

These next two lovelies were outside the gates, greeting visitors as they arrived.

Pink Stilt Faerie
Pink Stilt Faerie
Green Stilt Faerie
Green Stilt Faerie

And let’s not forget the Jousting! In case you aren’t aware, Jousting is the official State Sport of Maryland. The horses and riders were amazing to watch.

Joust
Joust
More Jousting
More Jousting

Let’s see now… What have I forgotten? Oh, yes! Check out the roof on this cottage! Click the image to enlarge it…

Cottage
Cottage

I love how the shingles are all this-way-and-that. So adorable!!

If you haven’t made it to the RenFest yet, there is still time. It will be running weekends through October 21. If you are active duty military, you can get a discount on the admission if you show your ID card. Wear comfortable clothes (especially shoes), and bring money and/or credit cards. There is an ATM, if you run out of cash, but most vendors accept “Lady Visa and Master Card”. Food/beverage will cost about $5 – $10 for a meal. There is alcohol available (beer, wine and mead), but I don’t recommend it on a hot day. I do recommend the chicken sandwich and chips. Spousal Unit enjoyed a turkey leg. Also, if you want to dress the part, but don’t have your own garb, there are costume rentals available. As always, there are many vendors willing to sell you anything from a single accessory to an entire ensemble. Finally, the “facilites” are minimal, with a bunch of porta-potties tucked behind a wall and no running water for hand-washing. They do have hand sanitizer and paper towels outside the “privy” area, and there is a baby changing station inside the area for changing diapers. If you need to know where something is, you can ask at the information booth, or just about any vendor or street performer. Staff are usually in marked garb or street clothes. Security is always wandering around, just in case there might be a problem.

If you go, enjoy the fun! If not, you’ll just have to try for next year.

muse Written by: