The Central Coast Renaissance Festival

This morning I went to the 29th annual Central Coast Renaissance Festival. The festival was held at Laguna Lake Park this year, which is a first. Last week when I was at the Thursday night farmer’s market I talked to someone promoting the festival. I had never been to a renaissance fair or festival before, so I jumped at the chance.

The Central Coast Renaissance Festival at Laguna Lake Park.

The Central Coast Renaissance Festival at Laguna Lake Park.

Many people were in costume. The people running the booths and providing entertainment were in very elaborate costumes. I was surprised at how many of the attendees were also in costume, ranging from the very simple to the very elaborate (I also saw a Star Trek flight suit, a dragon, and Captain America). As morning turned to afternoon the sun was bright and the temperature rose. I think those heavy costumes must have been uncomfortable.

Not typical apparel for SLO on a Saturday morning.

Not typical apparel for SLO on a Saturday morning.

A group of participants were acting out a scene from courtly life. One nobleman was pleading with the queen, it seemed he was advocating either war or a more aggressive foreign policy. The queen wasn’t buying it.

The queen.

The queen.

At some point in history these collars fell out of favor.

At some point in history these collars fell out of favor.

A few times I saw people in costume using cell phones. It was amusing. One performer came over to talk about my camera, and I appreciated that he broke character and we had a real camera conversation (this was not during his act).

A mix of performers and attendees.

A mix of performers and attendees.

While the royal folks and upper class had large and heavy costumes, the performers playing common people were dressed much more informally. Lots of skin (skin that usually does not see the sun, for good reason). A few costumes were too disturbing to photograph.

This guy was selling leather goods.

This guy was selling leather goods.

Strolling in the park.

Strolling in the park.

An archery range was set up, and you could purchase shooting privileges. At another range several archers were shooting arrows as an exhibition. One of them (the guy pictured below) was very good.

An archer at work.

An archer at work.

He was consistently hitting the bullseye, almost like Robin Hood.

He was consistently hitting the bullseye, almost like Robin Hood.

Beside the archers was a tower (you can see part of the base in the right foreground of the picture below). A spotter was sitting in that tower. When someone would use the trail behind the archery range a cry would emerge from the tower: “Cease fire! Cease fire!” In the picture below notice the guy walking the dog. The archer remarked loudly: “Lunch on a leash!” I laughed.

"Cease fire! Cease fire!"

“Cease fire! Cease fire!”

A performer was canvasing the grounds with three bright parrots. I saw another carrying a large snake around. One of my favorite moments from the festival was when I walked past a few kids petting the snake, and the handler remarked to them: “He’s got his own Facebook page.” This is the world we live in; snakes that perform at renaissance fairs have Facebook pages.

I think many of the performers are families (or at least couples). I noticed that a lot of the kids wandering the grounds selling things or working the crowds would check in with their parents. The little girl in red in the picture below engaged in some swordplay with a performer. My favorite part of this picture is the little guy wearing a cape in the lower right corner. He’s bent on rescuing his damsel in distress but he’s being restrained. He was concerned for good reason, she was “killed” moments later.

A sword fight breaks out.

A sword fight breaks out.

The festival seemed to be going well. Attendance was strong. People seemed to be buying things. I stopped at a tavern for some mead (how often do you get to drink mead, after all?).

I didn't realize ATMs dated back to the 16th century.

I didn’t realize ATMs date back to the 16th century.

Food was plentiful. I was happy to see large legs of turkey being sold. I did not get one, but people would walk by gnawing on one, and it added to the atmosphere. I saw several people walking from the stand holding their turkey leg gleefully–you’d never see someone so excited about a hot dog or vegetable wrap.

A few of the food stands.

A few of the food stands.

At the little arena in the middle of the grounds some knights met to rumble. The primary competition was between the two French knights below. The crowd was divided in half, my half rooted for the knight on the right (I forget her name). Her opponent was the guy on the left.

Knights before the competition.

Knights before the competition.

There were two commentators in the arena with microphones to announce the events, explain rules, and work the crowd. Their banter was definitely targeted toward the adults in the crowd. After several very dirty double entendres this line was delivered: “If your children get any of our jokes you are a terrible parent.”

The portly gentleman that served as the announcer.

A portly gentleman who provided commentary on the events.

Before the main event, the joust, the knights engaged in some tests of skills. They hit targets with their lances, collected rings with lances, threw javelins, and sliced cabbages with swords.

A skills competition before the joust.

A skills competition before the joust.

The enemy knight slices a cabbage .

The enemy knight slices a cabbage .

The hometown knight slices a cabbage.

The hometown knight slices a cabbage.

It was evident the enemy knight was considerably physically dominant to the knight my section was assigned. I’m afraid their message of equality (girls can be knights too!) was ruined when they blatantly broke the rules to allow her to win one of the events. Before the joust the knights left the arena to get suited up in their armor. Two new knights stepped into the arena to engage in some combat on foot.

These knights were ready to rumble.

These knights were ready to rumble.

The fight was pretty intense. They really went after each other. They didn’t just knock swords together and call that a fight. They were striking each other with both swords and fists and kicking each other. The dark knight landed three head shots with his sword on the silver knight. The last head shot ended the fight. I think they might have a concussion rule like the NFL. The blow dented his helmet enough that opening his visor was difficult.

After knocking his opponent's sword down, the dark knight smashed him over the head.

Moments before the fight ended.

When the original two knights returned they were in full armor. The joust followed. I’m not convinced that the knights were fully invested in destroying each other. It wasn’t much of a match. The enemy knight won easily. In the picture below the enemy knight’s lance has been shattered (which is good for him, it scores higher than a strike with an unbroken lance). This competition definitely has a measure of risk involved, things could go wrong.

The joust in progress.

The joust in progress.

At the conclusion of the event they honored the champion. He remarked that he competed for his queen. Suddenly Queen’s We are the Champions came across the PA system.

I enjoyed seeing the renaissance festival; it was worth attending.

About these ads

2 Comments

Filed under General

2 responses to “The Central Coast Renaissance Festival

  1. Glad you enjoyed your time at the Faire. Thought I would provide a little background for you. The archer you speak of is one of my best friends of 20+ years. He goes by Vax at faire. The camp to the right of him is all built by the guild he runs called Knights of AMOG and yes, he is very good on the bow and axes. Not sure if you walked up to the guild walls and spoke to anyone but next time please, come up, introduce yourself and enjoy all that the faire has to offer, it is a blast and very interactive!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s