Photo: AJ in the midst of the fire club juggling
Huzzah! The Arizona Renaissance Festival begins its 35th year with nine fun filled festive weekends, running every Saturday and Sunday through April 2, with a bonus day of Monday, February 20 for Presidents Day.
Once again you will find great eats, drinks, artisans, shops that display and sell their handmade crafts and goods, plus the rides, characters roaming the grounds, and of course the entertainment.
I always find myself running out of time, because there is really so much to take in. Dressing up is not a requirement, but encouraged. A time where you can go enjoy, relax, or cut loose in a not so forgotten time.
As you enter be sure not to rush by the cast of characters that are there to greet you. Quite an assortment, and worthy of a photo op. You will also be handed a map, which is vital to plan your stops for shows and other ventures.
Our first stop was at the Middleshire Stage, one of sixteen stages on the 50 acre site, to take in the London Broil show. It has nothing to do with cooking, but they do end their act with some heat. The comedy juggling trio does a great job engaging the crowd with their interactive humor. AJ, one of three expert jugglers said, “Great to be back in Arizona. We always get a great crowd here which makes it that much more fun for everybody. We have a lot of fun up there that gets translated to the audience.” Be sure to keep an eye on the golden club.
Also at the Middleshire stage, you can find the comedy duo of Hey Nunnie Nunnie The sisters return and are as good as ever. Even if religion is not your thing, you will find yourself enjoying their show and laughing it up, as Mother Redempta and Sister Philomenia let the jokes fly throughout their set. A show for all ages and a must see in my book. Like so many, their show is interactive with the audience, and the ladies do such a good job.
Another must see is the jousting events that are held in the tournament arena three times a day. Large crowds gather to cheer and boo accordingly, based on your section, and who your knight shall be. David Chavez of Phoenix said, “I have to hit this every year at least once. These guys know how to ride, and make it look so easy without really getting hurt. Plus you get to cheer, yell, and boo, which gives you an idea of what it was like back in the day. I love it.”
There are many musical acts or groups scattered about. Tartanic is back energizing crowds with their bagpipes and drums performance. The band consists of two bagpipers and two drummers, along with two lovely dancers. Adrian Walter, who handles one of the drums and communicates with the audience so well, said, “We are so very glad to be back, seeing a lot of familiar faces, and being able to share our music, and making new fans and friends. Always a good time here in Arizona.”
Hungry? Well help yourself to a Turkey legg, yes two g’s, are still a renaissance festival food favorite, and quite filling I might add. There are multiple choices to fill your belly, and quench your thirst. Don’t be shy, so indulge and enjoy!
Shopping at the festival consists of an amazing variety of items and wares. Be sure to spend some time appreciating the works of the artisans. The vendors are helpful and are willing to answer questions. There is a very good chance you will learn something.
Yes, there are rides too, and they are people powered. You might try a nice swing in a giant swan. If you want to ride a pony, or a camel, you can do that too.
So plan a trip just south of Apache Junction one Saturday or Sunday morning, and enjoy yourself for the day at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Open from 10am to 6pm, with plenty of free parking.
Each weekend has a different theme, so be sure to check that out before you go. More information, including ticket info, can be found at Arizona.RenFestInfo.com or call (520)463-2600.