The wise duo Simon and Garfunkel once sang this melodious verse:
Are you going to Scarborough Faire?
And while we left our parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme at home, our answer was a resounding, YES!
Scarborough Faire is an annual Renaissance Festival held in Waxahachie, about 45 miles south of downtown Dallas. I went once, with my parents, in college as a sort of novelty. I think I remember going once with Matt, either while we were dating or newly married. But it’s been at least two decades, so it was certainly time for a refresher. And our kids needed to experience it at least once.
It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Our day started off well enough: we were able to leave relatively on time and arrive there before lunch, despite the long line of traffic that formed at the highway exit and stretched all the way to the Faire’s entrance. We saw lots of families in the parking lot, many people dressed in costumes or period dress, and enjoyed the lively, festive atmosphere that comes with the anticipation of being a part of all that merriment.
We paid our entrance tax to the Lords of the Land and were immediately ushered back a few hundred years.
Our first picture was taken just inside the entrance. With the executioner. Naturally.
It served as a great object lesson to our kids to behave well, not complain, obey mom and dad and wash their hands.
As with all RenFests, there were numerous curiosities to be seen and enjoyed. We had prepared the kids to see lots of performers – and attendees – wearing period dress or costumes. But I saw far more jiggly bosoms – barely encased in the low, square-cut bustlines, spilling out of the push-up brassiere – than my 14-year-old son needed to see. Thankfully he, like myself, found most of it distasteful and inappropriate. In his words, “Gross, Mom.”
After checking out some of the side shows and enjoying a far-too-expensive medieval lunch, we decided to allow the kids a few rides while we waited for the Grand Parade to snake its way past us. In true medieval fashion, all rides run on “carnie-power”, meaning there is no electricity, no generator, no steel cables. It’s a guy with strong muscles and a whole lotta RedBull in his system that makes these contraptions go. Our happy campers hopped on the barrel roll: a large barrel-shaped car that spun and swung in all directions on a rope.
Ingeniously simple. Intensely fun. Insanely expensive.
It was then time for the Grand Parade, and we watched as various companies of performers, vendors, and minstrels bid us “How d’ye do?” and raised a glass (ostensibly of water, but some were a bit suspect) in our honor. We saw the Queen of Hearts, though Crisana couldn’t be convinced to have her picture taken with her. Merriment, coin-tossing, and dancing helped perpetuate the festive atmosphere and made us eager to see and experience more.
In a lull between shows, we stopped for face-painting. Because, really, what is more medieval than that?
Crisana chose a butterfly scroll, which she intends to wear to church tomorrow, because it will match her dress.
We stopped by a “sword shop” for a little swordplay. Crisana got the basic rules from the proprietor and had to choose her opponent. She chose Dad. Whew.
The duel was on!
It was an intense battle, but thankfully no parent or child was harmed in the making of this duel.
We meandered through the different lands, taking in side shows and stopping to peruse the wares of the various merchants. We laughed histerically at the antics of a clown named “Al Dante Fettucine” who sliced a banana with a whip, stating, “I’ve done this trick a hundred times, and never once have I hurt myself.” We listened eagerly to the storytelling improvisations of Pirate Pete (or whatever his name was) whose Ballerina Pirates went in search of Nutcrackers on an island guarded by lawn gnomes and sprinkled with Lucky Charms. We cheered passionately for the underdog turtle, “No Chance”, to win at the exciting turtle races.
And after his hard-luck loss at the sword duel, Dad had to spend some time in the stockade.
We continued our tour of all things medieval with a stop by the “hurl a tomato” booth, otherwise known as the Court Jester, or rather Court Insulter. We enjoyed the banter – and insulting – that ensued, despite not throwing any tomatoes at him. While Matt was busy trading verbal grenades, Crisana and I took a detour to the ping-pong shooter.
She tried her best but didn’t win any prizes.
She did manage to get one in the hole, however!
By this time, the novelty was fading. We were hot, tired, and dehydrated. And the constant barrage of half-dressed, extremely plump and well-endowed women was beginning to wear on us. We took a few requisite touristy-type pictures and headed into the shade…
…where we met a leprechaun!
That certainly put a little sparkle in our day and some pep in our step. Our final stop for the day was at the petting zoo. Crisana was in heaven with the opportunity to feed and pet the horse…er…unicorn.
So she satisfied herself with merely petting him. Still, how many girls can say they’ve pet a real live Unicorn!
All in all, it was an experience. One that I’m glad we had, but also one that I don’t feel the need to repeat very often. Next year, when our parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme come calling, we’ll simply enjoy them at home.