Connecticut Spring Renaissance Faire 2011 Review

I’ve had this draft sitting here forever! Before starting a review on the 2011 Fall Renaissance Faire in Hebron, CT, I must get this one published once and for all.

This past May, I attended Connecticut’s first Robin Hood-themed spring renaissance faire. I thought this event was well worth the hour and forty minute drive from Springfield, MA to Guilford, CT – a very charming town if you’ve never been there. Unfortunately for the faire, a good number of the weekends were very rainy, and I had to keep delaying my plans to go until the very last day of the faire. This year I finished sewing a new “Ever After” Italian Renaissance gown in burgundy cotton velvet, so there was no way I was going to let that get wet. That’s really my only excuse for staying away from the rain. I really hope not too many others were too deterred from attending this year for the same reason, because they would have missed out on some great performances and unique purchases.

I have been to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA, and King Arther’s Faire in Hebron, CT – this new faire’s  fall sibling – and I saw a few familiar faces, including the rather cynical performer for Curious Magic – unmistakable with his odd, black jester’s hat and dry sense of humor – and the Pope – well-known for his Poprah talk show in Hebron – although he moved down a few stations this season as a bishop. I think I mixed his friend up with him, as they tend to work together at both Connecticut Faires – I asked him if he was the Pope in disguise. Close, but no cigar. I wonder now if they’re brothers…? I also kept an eye out for Rufus, our favorite muddy beggar who shows up everywhere and graces us with very amusing performances, but alas, no, he wasn’t there this time around. At least not the day I went.

I went to almost all the Robin Hood theme performances, and I was very impressed. Most notably, I have to applaud the actors who played Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisborn, although I think everyone worked very well together and all deserve credit for a show well done. Prince John hammed it up just enough to make his character absolutely delightful, and you could tell how much he was enjoying himself on the stage. I sat through the Villains’ “Secret” Meeting performance, and even though I had to deal with a little girl directly behind me screaming about being the “Princess Queen”, Prince John kept the show afloat and improvised well to any unexpected ridiculous behavior from the audience.

Gisborn was simply awesome. I would never have thought of him being dressed up like a barbaric horse, but he played his part to the fullest – loping around with a very creepy neighing sound, wild eyes, and flashing teeth as he moved amongst the audience – just looking plain crazy. He really creeped me out, so I think that makes him a success. A little girl dressed like supergirl – not sure how that fits in with medieval, but it was cute – thought he was a riot and I saw him chasing her around later like some scary cannibal. She was just delighted,  enjoying the game and running around giggling. That kid had guts – I probably would have cried at that age. I was such a wuss!

There was a nice variety of shops, and a lot of them had very reasonable prices, especially considering how most – if not all –  of the products were handmade! So many things these days are mass-produced, and not even from the USA, so it’s very refreshing to have the opportunity to purchase individually crafted pieces from our own artisans! My particular favorite is Black Swan Masques, with beautiful leather masks that are very tastefully decorated. Whether you like masquerade, faerie, jester, or goblin styles, these guys have a nice assortment at different price ranges. A friend of mine loves Marrus Art, a painter who both sells her paintings and paints faces with great style. What she loves about her work is that every painting has an inspiring story or motive behind it – literally, as it is included on the back of each work. I’m the proud owner of two masks now, and she’s the proud owner of two painting prints.

The food was decent, although I don’t tend to have a big appetite when I go to these events. They don’t charge steep “concert” prices, if you know what I mean, so that’s encouraging. The french fries were to die for at one stand – I’ll have to keep an eye out for them again next time. And if they had the apple cider mini donuts like they do for the Hebron Faire – you have to get them while you have the chance!! They’re super addicting!

One thing I really like about the Connecticut Faires is that you can go return to your car for things and be re-admitted to the faire. Because I have some strict diet requirements, it’s great that I can bring a lunch that won’t make me painfully sick for the rest of the day – don’t think for a moment that I can eat those fries and donuts without getting severely punished later! Those are an end of the day, I’ll suffer while driving and when I get home sort of thing. While that’s one reason I like going back to the car, the other great perks are that I can shed parts of my costume if it gets too hot or cumbersome, and drop off purchases.  That’s one thing that deters me from going to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA – there’s no going back once you’re in. If your feet hurt, you can’t go get comfier shoes unless you bring them with you – which totally cramps my more elaborate style. It discourages me from going all out on my costume. And of course – my food choices are extremely limited if I want to feel good. If Carver wants me to return more frequently, they need to change that limitation.

So, all in all, I thought this faire was really fun and totally worth the travel and expense. I definitely plan to go next year! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll have some more great Robin Hood themed performances in store! That was truly my favorite part this year.

I’ll be sure to bring sunscreen next time – I underestimated the May sun and got the worst sun burn of my life. I still have the  overly tanned (not a pretty tan at all) skin from the shoulders up that reminds me of this mistake straight into the fall, and probably through the winter at this rate!