Mythic heroes slaying dragons, steel clad warriors jousting atop mighty steeds and knights in shining armor saving damsels in distress...this can all be found at the Arizona Renaissance Festival.
My family made the annual trek down to Florence, Arizona to take in the sites and sounds of this years Arizona Renaissance Festival. The Fesitval is one of the largest in the nation and sits on a 30 acre site just below the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix.
This is the 26th anniversary for this fine event. As always, there was plenty to do, see and buy, if you so desire. Many patrons get into the "times" by dressing up. This is not mandatory, but highly encouraged. I have to say, it does help you get into the spirit of the event. Costumes may be found online, pieced together from your local thrift shop or rented at the Festival.
The first thing you want to do once you arrive, is pick up a Schedule Of Events. This little item will help you plan your day. There may be some shows important to you, such as The Jousting Tournament.
The main show is the Jousting tournament, held in The King's Arena. There are three shows to partake in. The first being at high noon, with Her majesty "Joust a Plaisance", followed by the 2:30 performance, "His Majesty's Joust a Plaisance". The final show of the day is "Joust a Outrance, a Joust to the Death". The arena does fill up and there is limited shade, so I recommend you show up a tad early for these events.
There are an amazing 13 stages of live performances that go on all day. Truly, there is something for everyone to enjoy. For myself, there were just so many, I really needed a second day. Here are a few of the acts I was able to see.
Hey Nunnie Nunnie, featuring two ladies from the convent, who have their own way of delivering the good message of religion. Shannon O'Brien and Dana McCain have been garnishing laughs since 1994. The silly sisters sins and songs will captivate you with their unique style of reverant and irreverent comedy. If you have any knowledge of the Good Book, then you will love the jokes. Being Catholic is not a requirement, but makes the jokes extra funny. More information at www.heynunnienunnie.com
Tartanic, led by frontman Adrian Walter, brings bagpipes and drums to life. John E Jaan keeps the beat with Walter. Bagpipers Ethan Crownover and Scott Macleod liven up the melody. The lovely ladies of the group are Fanny Lowereen McCrackin and Sophia Balentine, who move to the melodies along with the intense beat. They have CDs and shirts for sale and even encourage patrons of the discs to, as stated by Walter, "Burn a disc for your cheap friends, as everyone should have bagpipes in their lives." This show is a must see. More information at www.tartanic.net
The Clan Tynker Family Circus is a troupe of brothers and sisters who perform dazzling juggling acts, magic, stilt walking, unicycle riding, sword swallowing and fire eating, to go along with the comedic demeanor. You may find yourself with one of the members playing tricks on you as you roam the village. Just a heads up there! Of course, it is all in good fun. If you ever went to "Tsunami on the Square", in Prescott, you will recognize this group.
Can Tynker is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and have been together since 1995, performing all over the world. Your children will be amazed. For more information go to www.clantynker.com
Of course, what would a Festival be with out drinks and grub. The tradition for myself is to indulge in a turkey leg. Boy, were they good this year! There was also broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl which was very good along with festival staples like pizza.
The London Broil Show features Duncan, Louie, and Matt. They are a rare blend of comedy that is both family friendly and hip. It is like hanging out with you best friends who like to throw clubs, knives, and fire at each other. It is non-stop improv at its finest, and well worth a stop in your day of fun.
There are three loose cannons at this years Festival. The first is Zilch The Torysteller who is exactly that, a Torystellar. He tells stories that have a twist to them. Replacing first letters in words to make your mind go bonkers. It takes some careful thought and concentration to try and keep up with him.
The comedy presented by Zilch can be very subtle, so don't worry parents, most children under the age of 10 won't comprehend.
After a while you find yourself laughing at silly phrases that you may not even full understand. Terry Foy, who has over three decades of performing, is the mastermind behind two shows this season, including Jomeo and Ruliet. He is amazing, very funny, and another must bee to selieve, (must see to believe). He has two Cds out called Tairy Fales and Stunny Fuff. Are you catching on yet? For more info, go to www.torystellar.com.
The second cannon is Ded Bob. How does one describe Ded Bob? I won't even try, but I will tell you that Ded Bob isn't quite a subtle as Zilch, and Ded Bob's humor will most certainly involve body parts. Go to www.debbob.com if you dare.
Did I forget to mention the Tortuga Twins? There are three of them. But that shouldn't surprise you...and they're all Loose Cannons. You can go more information on them at www.tortugatwins.com
Adam Crack appears again at this years Festival. Last season, Adam, Whip Cracker Extraordinaire, set these two Guinness Records. Most flowers cracked from the mouth in a minute, with 44, and most candles extinguished in a minute, 86. He holds no world records now, but who knows what he'll achieve at this years festival.
Gypsey Jeff is from Milwaukee and will dazzle you with his performance featuring magic, juggling, puppeteering, and just plain clowining around. This is a show for all ages, but the kids really gravitate towards the front. Check him out at www.gypseygeoff.com
A good spot to gather and take in some beautiful music, is in the east side of the village, where you will find harpist Sarah Marie Mullen. She fell in love with the harp at age five when a harpist visited her class in kindergarten. You will find her music moving and relaxing. Spend a few minutes while you are there enjoying the wonderful music Sarah makes, just make sure you face her while she plays or she will sternly request your attention. More information at www.sarahmariemullen.com.
If pirates are your thing, you may want to check out Knotty Nauticals. The troupe features a high energy, interactive, pirate themed comedic-variety show! Among the things you will see in there show are fire-eating, rope walking, music and possibly more. Alicia Grant and Travis Dewey perform in this fun-filled, crowd interactive show that is full of non-stop laughs and amazing feats of strength.
The ancient art of falconry can be seen at the Falconer's Heath near the center of the park. The exhibition of features the birds of prey. The show is very fascinating, and can be a peaceful part of the day.
And finally, there is an undertaker with a funeral cart, that slowly proceeds throughout the village. Depending on how you feel, you may be able to presuade him for a ride to your final destination.
The Festival runs every weekend through March 30. The hours are from 10am-6pm. Make your plans to enjoy, experience and interact at the Royal Faire! Find more information at www.royalfaires.com.
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