Hear ye! Hear ye! Welcome to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, now in it’s 29th season! This Fest is, of course, in a 125-acre field located on Crownsville Road, in Anne Arundel County in Crownsville, just outside of Annapolis, MD. The roads are marked, so it is easy to find. Very good directions can be found at the website. This 16th Century village is called Revel Grove and, like Scarborough Faire in Texas, is centered around King Henry VIII. This one runs 8 weeks from the middle of August to the end of October each year. This is the second largest Renaissance Festival in the country.
Parking is, as usual, a dirt & grass field. Try to come in an SUV or truck if you can, as it gets pretty muddy if it happens to storm. This Festival does have handicapped parking available by the main gate, but it is still not a smooth drive.
The Main Entrance is a like a bower, an arch of sorts, with a fine lass taking tickets ($16). Ye will be greeted here by royalty…and taunted by peasants! If ye happen to be wearin’ shorts ye WILL be asked why yer runnin’ around in yer knickers! I suggest ye come in the proper garb, but hey, if being taunted flips yer dagger, then by all means dress ‘normal’.
Privies here primarily consist of port-a-potties. Ick. There is, however, running sink water outside the privies in which to wash ya grimy hands.
After strollin’ down a row of vendors of every shape and size, you come out into the main village… which is to say you come upon a center, which has many roads leading off it. This faire has tons of permanent buildings built to the 16th Century style. This Festival is here to stay. This Fest has 130 craft shops, so you can definitely find whatever it is ye be a-wantin’….many fine sword shops, garb galore, toys and trinkets to strike awe in the hearts of kids of any age (includin’ those of 49-ish, like me…heh).
Me an’ me wench friend Meryll happened to brave this Fest together, and that was a dangerous combination, let me tell ye! While a-wanderin’ the many fine shops we happened to over-hear a conversation by a mighty fine rogue and his cohort. Seems some lass had left a package fer him, and in this package was a pair of black bikini briefs. Now, bein’ the innocent wenches that we are, me an’ Meryll, well… we got to gigglin’. Busted! Well this shop owner says ‘here! What’s sa funny ye two?‘ So, in the most straight face that I could muster, I replied ‘ M’Laird, we was just wonderin if’n ya planned to be modellin’ yer fine mysterious present!’ He said why sure! We ran off laughing so hard we was cryin’. Just one of our many escapades. The fest is all about havin’ fun, ye see… and fun we did have!
Prices are a bit high, as with any RenFest. Wench skirts go for about $40 here, but ye kin gets em cheaper on eBay to be sure. Cloaks here will ya upwards of about $150, compared to eBay at about $60 plus. There is a shop here that will fit yer kilt, and show ya how it’s spose to be worn even. That’s very handy for those new to the Faire life. What they will tell ya is… well… should I? Oh why not… Fellas, ya spose to be wearin’ yer birthday suit under them kilts! That’s why ye will see some lasses at these Faires with mirrors on their boots! HUZZAH! I meself have a pin on the top flap of me boot that says ‘Head Kilt Inspector’. Bring on those bare-chested kilted males!
Food is ample and actually reasonable here. We decided on barbecued ribs ($5), which were very messy indeed, but oooh soooo good! To be honest it took two orders to fill us up here, but worth it, and $10 is comparable to what I get good ribs for in Richmond. Naturally, they have the staples of huge Turkey legs and peasant bread. There is quote a lot of food to choose from, 42 places to be exact about it. There is even a tavern for those so inclined, with bagpipes and dancin’ to entertain ye as ye sip of the fine honey Meade.
There are sooo many Shows to see here! From wandering minstrels to comedy stage acts. Ye can choose from Barto (Comic Acrobat), The Bloody Drama (combines sketch comedy, audience interaction, and improvisation), Children’s Knighting Ceremony, Christophe the Insultor (did you catch him at Scarborough Faire already? He is too funny!), The Coronation of Anne Boleyn, Desmond Devereaux (con artist extraordinaire), Fight School, Johnny Fox (a sword-swallowin’ friend of Merryl’s), A Fool Named “O”, Hack and Slash, Hilby, the Skinny German Juggle Boy, The Human Chess Game, Hypnosis, The Jokesters, Maggie’s Music, Master Lee, The Mediaeval Baebes (medieval poems set to their own music), Mimi the Mime, Music and Dance of Ireland, Peter the Great!, Pickled Punks and soo many more!
My favorite here is The Puke and Snot Show, performed by Mark Sieve and Joe Kudla. This is medieval comedy at it’s very best. These guys are bawdy to the extreme and guaranteed to have you cryin’ from laughin’. I had to buy their ceramic stein ($16) and they both signed it for me. I s’pose I should mention that at every show at every faire, it’s good form to put a buck or two into the hat that is passed around afterwards.
Jousting at this festival is by The Free Lancers, a group of guys that do just this, joust. While it is choreographed and the guys have stunt training, it is VERY good. They put on a great show, and do leave some element of danger, while tickling your funny bone mercilessly!
The last weekend of every season this Fest has the Jousting Tournament, where the winners from other fests come to compete for the year’s title. This is not to be missed!
This Festival does not allow you to wear your weapons. They used to, but this stopped after 9/11. That’s ok, I wear me wench garb to this one instead of the rogue garb. And it’s just as fun!
There are many games to play here… ye kin test yer skill at axe tossin or grab a bow and see if ye kin shoot as well as an elf. The first weekend of the season is Children’s Weekend and they get in free. There are various activities for the wee ones such as Pony Rides and Juggling School.
As I said, this Festival is the second largest in the U.S., and as such, you cannot miss it! This is the best time of your life! Do plan to spend more than one day here. There is no way you can see everything in one day. Make it a weekend outing at the very least.