Yea I know, this isn’t really about Asian food or festivals but I’m just saying, this festival is AMAZING. So amazing, I had to just write about it and share our experiences. I have never seen such a well-executed, highly spirited festival so far in Phoenix.
Located really really far off the 60, the 28th annual Renaissance fair is a vast Disneyland-like utopia of buildings and crazy ye olde hobbies such as old instruments, strange food, and tongue-in-cheek performances. I was lucky enough to get some insider information from my coworkers who also work at the Renaissance Fair.
This is the main gist of what I got:
- This is the 3rd largest Renaissance fair in the country. The next one is somewhere in Texas.
- Come early. The best time is 9:30am when the gates open but our group came in at 10:30 am without any problems. However, traffic can be pretty bad near the parking area so be prepared for this.
- The best bang for your buck is the taco salad. We didn’t get it because who eats tacos at a Ren fair? However, food is generally cheap.
- You can buy last year’s mugs to the right of the front entrance. They are generally around half priced.
- Buy your tickets at Frys for a 10% discount.
The strange thing about the Renaissance Fair is that the booths are legitimate buildings that were built for the sole purpose of the Ren Fair. What’s even or impressive is that they stay there because the location is so in the middle of nowhere that they can just leave the buildings there.
There is a huge amount of authentic buildings there including ye olde broom shops, a pirate ship shop, and food courts that look like castles. It is extremely admiring to see how much effort this whole area has. There are small little entertainment spots where musicians play weird instruments or gather everyone in a circle and chat like you were right in the middle ages.
There is about over 10 stages of entertainment ranging from legitimate reenactments, drama pieces, comedy shows, magic acts, and of course, jousting tournaments. What’s even crazier is that’s not even half of it. From the wandering beggars off the street, the greyhound foundation and axe/arrow/ninja star throwing booths, and elephant rides, there is something for everyone here.
If you haven’t seen the jousting show, I would highly recommend that event out of all the other events there. The jousting only happens 3 times a day and is located in the far West of the fairgrounds. You experience the immersion by sitting on the benches correlated to a specific family house and representative knights and squires will compete against each other. Each knight is a stereotypical medieval character. The cast this time was a strong ox-like brute, the sage veteran, the eccentric foreigner and the cocky protagonist in the ring as they fight for a Golden Fleece thing. The jousting involves basically poking things with sticks and ends up with the knights charging at each other to knock off magnetic shields off their chests.
Everything here is decently pricy and if you are truly really into this type of thing, you can spend a pretty penny to make your hobbies worthwhile. Even though souvenirs and other nick nacks are expensive, these folks are truly artisans of their craft. Where else could you find face-books and extremely well-crafted candles? If you’re into authentic gear, you can go to the several seamstresses or weapon shops that litter the hall way. Want a royal stamp? They’ve got that too.
I had a souvenir that was a little more authentic but I’m weird like that. After the jousting match, a lot of people were asking to buy the shields that were knocked off of the knights during the tournament. You could even buy the damaged jousting pole if you really wanted to. So for ten bucks, I got a damaged shield and asked the winning knight to sign it. Good deal.
I’m a sucker for mugs so I spent some money of a legitimate goblet. Of course, I bought a 2015 version because I’m a cheap skate. I also bought a wooden catapult that has an impressive shooting ability to bug my coworkers.
Our group went to the Queen’s Kitchen which has the majority of food there. Though there are tons of food places in the festival, it’s smart to generally eat here because it has the diverse menu.
The most popular item in the Ren fair by far is the power of the smoked turkey leg. Compact and not so cumbersome, these turkey legs are decently smoked, have a nice crunch and aren’t that greasy. I guess with about 30 years of experience, these turkey legs are pretty darn good. My friend order this but she couldn’t finish it so I ate half of it. For $8 dollars, I would definitely recommend having at least one of your friends get the turkey leg.
However, I wanted something decently authentic so I got a plate of stewed meat with peppers and onions… and a side of fries. Hey you never know here! In any case, the beef came with a flat bread that was extremely tough to eat. No normal person would eat something like that but I am not a normal person. In any case, the bread tasted like a mix of flour and water.
Two of my other friends got the legitimate pasty and sausage roll which were pretty good. It comes with mashed potatoes and discolored peas. Needless to say, no one ate the peas.
Later on, I saw multiple people walk around with these spheres of ice. Asking and tracking, we came upon the wonders of a $3.00 Italian ice sphere. It was this reddish hemisphere of dense Italian ice underneath half an orange. It was refreshingly good but it was hard to eat. I would recommend it.
Another person bought a caramel apple.
If I ever made money from this blog, I would do the $60.00 feast they have at the front of the entrance. Some day.
Arizona continues to impress me with its myriad of festivals and the Renaissance Fair is no exception. With a huge, dedicated and passionate crowd, even the most skeptical of people will love and admire the art and effort put in to this fair.