This weekend heralded the 23rd Annual Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival at Sunset Park. This once a year event brings out adults and children alike to experience the past, dress up in medieval outfits, and practice their Old English accents. The festival stretched from Friday to Sunday and did not fail to bring out families, historical reenactors, and cosplayers alike.
On the way to Sunset Park an unexpected and quite welcome surprise was finding the road work at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Sunset Road was finally completed and all lanes open for the first time since the renaissance era, or so it seemed.
It was tempting to try out the free shuttle service this year as the parking is usually one of the biggest draw backs to attending the faire. Since the traffic going into the park seemed lighter than expected, we decided to try our luck. The regular spaces were filled already but there were still roadside spots in the back of the park available, which turned out to be easier to get into and out of, so it worked out well.
With that out of the way, it was on to the fun part. After going through the entrance line, it was immediately clear that the setup of the vendor booths was different than I remember. this year you walk through a short winding bazaar of booths before you get to the open areas. Most of the shoppes were for period clothing, particularly corsets, jewelry, some artwork, and of course swords and daggers.
The rest of the faire wrapped around the pond. The guilds area always seems to be the liveliest section of these festivals, guilds are groups of reenactors, many or local but some travel for the festival. Each guild has a theme, such as Norse Vikings, or Elizabethan courtesans, and in between educating the public about their period or culture, they like to put on a show and have a good time.
There is always plenty of dining options at the Renaissance Faire, this year was no exception. The giant turkey legs are probably the one item most associated with the festival, there was mostly modern fair offered. Authentic food is the one area that would be interesting to see expanded on, while nachos and hot dogs are delicious, they are not exactly from the Middle Ages.
At the top of any hour there is usually some type of performance starting somewhere in the park. Magicians, jugglers, belly dancers, and historical reenactments were all to be found. The Pirates of the Sky Birdshow was one I had not seen before and found it to be quite impressive. The owner and lead trainer of Birds n’ Beasts, Inc., Joe Krathwohl, gave guests a fantastic look at his array of rare birds in front of a large replica pirate ship. This included an Andean Condor, which is the largest bird in the world capable of flight, a Bateleur Eagle, that are on the verge of extinction in the wild, and a colorful parrot among others. This show was definitely a highlight of the day and worth going to on its own.
For those truly dedicated to the once a year event, the weekend most likely went by quickly and did not seem long enough. For many this weekend was nothing less than a holiday and that is what makes this festival so special. The Renaissance Faire is certainly about more than just the renaissance era or turkey legs; to put it simply, it is just fun!
If you missed it this year, mark your calendar for 2017; it is usually held the second weekend of October. It is best to get your tickets in advance as they are more expensive at the door. It is also a good idea to follow them on social media to catch deals. This year they offered $1 promotional tickets on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to check the festival’s official webpage for the most up to date info at lvrenfair.com