There’s no way I can write about King Richard’s Faire with any pretense of objectivity. Simply put: I love it. I’ve been going every year since I was young, even flying home from college to get my annual renaissance faire fix. Every year I convince a new group of mostly unwilling attendees to come with me, and they all enjoy themselves. Why? Because King Richard’s Faire, with all of its weirdness and anachronism and almost-believable jousting, is a phenomenon unto itself. Walk into the realm with a full wallet and an open mind, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Here’s why:
1. The Baby Tigers
I might at well start with this, because the two - yes, two - baby tigers will be the highlight of your day. Find them in Great Cats of the World, at the Tiger Stage, but get there well before the show starts if you want a good seat. This show always ends up being standing forest only, because let’s face it, nothing tops baby tigers.
2. The Performances
One thing is for sure at King Richard’s Faire: you’re definitely going to be entertained. From the Torture Show, where Ses Carney literally puts fish hooks through his eye sockets and the Topsy Turvy circus “acrobalance,” to the magical Wonder Show and the “comical weirdness” of Daniel, Duke of Danger, there’s always something awesome to see. The kids entertainment - Princess Academy, The Bard O’ Carvershire, The Crystal Ball Tells All - means you can drink your mead in peace while your little dragons are spellbound in Kid’s Cove.
3. The Time-Out-of-Time Phenomonon
They completely embrace the anachronism at the Faire. They won’t even pretend not to know what a camera is, like they do at Plimoth Plantation, unless a performer spots a person who’s been tasting a tad too much from his flagon and feels like having some fun. The vendors even take credit cards: the coin of the realm includes Master Card, Lady Visa and New Worlde Express. For real. You can really say New Worlde Express and hand over some plastic.
4. The Food
They still have New England food on the menu, even though New England didn’t exist when the Faire is set. I order the King’s Chowder Boule every time I go there. Not only is it fun to say, it’s pretty decent chowder and it comes in a bread bowl. There are also Dragon Wings, Fishe ‘n Chips, the Lord’s Pigge Sandwich, Peasant Patties wi’ or wi’out bacon and Loaded Seasoned Waffle Fryes (widely known as a favorite of King Henry VIII), plus a bunch of other stuff not conducive to medieval names, like salad and pizza.
5. The Games
Don't expect anything high tech, which is totally not in the spirit of the thing. Ye goode olde fashionde games(e) include sliding a pewter flagon down a bar, climbing a Jacob's ladder (tip: the amount of times you fall into the hay below is directy proportionate to how many yardes o' beere you've had), axe throwing and whacking your significant other with a bag of hay to try to knock him down (sorry, babe). The best part? When you win, you get knighted. I have several proclamations of knighthood - there are no dames in the realm - hanging in my office at this very moment.
6. The Inclusivity
King Richard welcomes all manner of weirdos into his Renaissance menagerie. You want to dress up as a 16th century English lord? Great. But if you’d rather be a dastardly pirate, a fairy nymph or a Jedi Knight? Also totally cool with His Royal Highness of Carvershire.
7. The Joust
I’m just going to be straight with you. The joust isn’t believable. While there are live horses and choreographed games of skill, the same actors have been doing the same jousting for so many years that they fall off their horses before the other lance is even in the general vicinity. But when you’re sitting there, holding a yarde o' beere and cheering your head off for your champion, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there is some form of actual, real life jousting happening in front of you. And really, is imminent potential death a dealbreaker for you? Because if it is, please stay home. Or at least sit next to someone who isn’t me.
8. The Craftsmanship
Whether you’re dying to get your hands on a suit of chainmail, herbal apothecary potions, a travel cloak, handmade leather shoes, a pewter flagon or a bejeweled dragon headdress, you’re going to find it at the Faire. Just be aware: brandishing your brand new, weapons-grade sword is totally legit in Carvershire, but might not go over so well back in the 21st century.
9. The Turkey Legge
One picture of you tearing into an enormous turkey leg is obligatory on your first visit, and will be your new profile picture for at least the time it takes your hangover to wear off.
10. The Joust to the Death
Did I say nothing can top baby tigers? There's a legit (well, almost legit) joust to the death (well, the almost death) every day at 5pm. There's no better way to end your day at the Faire than by cheering your champion while he bests the other, lesser knights and leaves them laying in the dust. Take that, knaves.