The 16th Annual Escondido Renaissance Fair: A Menagerie of the Medieval…and Pirates?

“Don’t mind the dragons. Our knights keep them away.” – A woman dressed as a bard referenced the roar of an engine from a passing car. It was then I began to question why I had come here. Was it the returning heat wave, the overjoyed people in medieval attire, or the media’s subliminal message that “Renaissance fairs are too weird and overly nerdy”? Upon entering the Renaissance Fair, music from what looked like a giant recorder greeted guests. Almost everyone else I saw arrived in a Renaissance costume of some kind; thankfully, the medieval attire was optional.

Much of the park was covered in tents with each one housing something different. There were fortune tellers who offered tarot readings and other forms of divination – for a price. Numerous shops sold food, weaponry, or hand-made accessories. Three stages were setup within the park and at any one time there would be two or three simultaneous shows going on. And of course the essential royal court was located near the back of the fair.

IMG_0540The Royal Court, which I later learned was the Queen’s Court, featured a queen and her royal subjects. The court was probably a homage to Queen Elizabeth the most well-known of Henry the VIII’s daughters – hurrah paying attention in history class. During different times of the day the queen and her court would cross the park for guest to see. Even though many of the Her Majesty’s subjects usually kept their distance, they were welcoming to other guests and myself who didn’t dresses in the expected attire. Many of the people who worked there were return volunteers for at least a few years. After a small conversation with them, there was a small show in front of the queen’s court with a preacher. Later on, the queen and her subject would make her presence known by visiting the different sections of the fair.

After visiting the Queen’s Court I saw Jack Sparrow. Somehow I overlooked the clause IMG_0567 “Pirates in the Park” on the program. There he was, under a shaded area, energetically reading a pop-up book to a group of children. He spoke of a treasure hunt around the park. Later I learned the children and any other child who wasn’t present during Sparrow’s story time was allowed to participate in a treasure hunt within the fair.

Further away from the Queen’s Court, Jack Sparrow wasn’t the only pirate with an audience. On one stage stood an older pirate with three other parrots each performing different tricks. The first parrot passed items to the pirate with only the mention of the item’s name. The second parrot performed dog tricks: roll over, speak, and sit. The third acted as a bowling ball; the bird would literally ball up in his hand then roll to the edge of the table. Once the laughs and cheers from the audience died down I left to explore other parts of the fair.

It was then I discovered a small area where a man and a woman were training with swords and shields. Although it wasn’t extremely action packed, the sounds of clashing swords still brought an excited smile on my face. A woman wielded a long sword while the man parried with a short sword and shield. She showed difficulty against her opponent. It was when the instructor reminded her to use the range of her longsword the fight begun to even out. The man had to maneuver in such a way to avoid hits while the woman needed to use the longsword to keep him at bay, while trying to bait a shield block. I never realized how much strategy went into fighting with swords and shields or even against someone who was using them. In the end the two declared a draw. I would’ve done the same thing given how hot it was.

Overall, for a first time at a Renaissance fair it was quite fun, even though there wasn’t any jousting. Maybe next year I can take a break from the virtual world of video games and redo the quest of exploring and enjoying the Renaissance fair.

By: E. Velasquez

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