So I went to the New York Renaissance Faire this weekend. I’m not going to dress it up any more than that. I went because I thought it would be interesting and I could take some silly photos. I also learned a bunch about an oft-maligned subculture as I walked among them in the dust. Huzzah!
1. Renaissance Faires are really popular.
Wow. People love their Ren Faires! We initially showed up at 2:00 and were turned away by an angry cop, who barked that there wasn’t any more room and we’d have to come back later. We drove around for a while and then went to an outlet mall, so that was pretty terrible.
We returned a few hours later and had to park about a mile from this sign.
2. Renaissance Faires are fucking expensive.
Holy shit. $22? So I can go to a county fair that doesn’t have rides? I learned from this particular Ren Faire’s Wiki that it’s a pretty big deal and a lot of the structures are permanent. It’s also a big deal for the cast members, who spend two months preparing for their roles, learning how to pronounce “Huzzah” mainly, and I guess breaking the ingrained habit of putting “ye olde” in front of everything. Anyway, this isn’t some JV Ren Faire and I guess that means overhead.
3. You never really get used to it.
Every time I saw people in full costume next to people who weren’t, I had a really hard time keeping it together. Not because wearing costumes is worthy of ridicule or anything; in fact, I think if everyone took it very seriously and wore the outfits and spoke in their nebulous Medieval dialect, I’d have an easier time of it. But seeing people in really meticulously-designed Elizabethan garb standing beside, say, security guards is really funny. But the fact of the matter is…
4. People have a pretty freeform approach to this.
Yup. Feudal Japanese warrior. And…
Of course Furries. I was there maybe ten minutes before I saw my first Furry.
5. Few people really commit.
I was most surprised by the fact that even the people in elaborate costume seemed to have a pronounced self-awareness, or more self-awareness than you’d expect from someone in a cape. Most people in costumes kind of just walked around smirking; the only people 100% committed to the vocab and vague accents were cast members.
There are also people who, you get the sense, used to really embrace it some time ago, but now they’re just phoning Ren Faire in:
Except this guy. He completely means it:
He looked happier than I have ever been in my entire life.
6. Ren Faire is really for adults.
I was amazed by how many kids wore their disdain for Ren Faire openly (obviously not this adorable little girl and her righteous Dad, though). I had always assumed Ren Faire was for kids–because it’s loosely educational, insofar as you learn that a long time ago people said “Huzzah!” when you tipped them–but most people at Ren Faire are over eighteen.
7. People say “Huzzah!” when you tip them.
I was so unprepared for this! If you tip them, they say “Huzzah!” to you and then they shout to their food booth compatriots, “Huzzah to the tipper!” Other than that, though…
8. Ren Faire employees are uniformly well-mannered and polite.
It makes sense if you think about it; you’re probably not going to apply for a job at Ren Faire unless you really want to work at Ren Faire.
9. Ren Faire really is just a county faire without rides:
Artisanal goods, milliners, handmade soaps, etc. The closest thing they have to rides are archery and a maypole.
10. …Only they give things “ye olde” misspellings:
I guess the Y is more authentic?