Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Story of How I Survived the Renaissance Festival

In all of my (short-ish) years of life, I have never been to the Renaisance Festival - which is kind of a big deal festival-wise in Minnesota. So this year, I vowed to finally get on my horse and ride to the festival.

Well okay, maybe I'm being a bit fanciful, but it's the Renaissance Fair - who wouldn't want to be fanciful?

Planning ahead of time, my two younger sisters (who have both been to the festival before and didn't invite me!) and I plotted our costumes. After all, you can't just go to the Renaissance Festival without dressing up, right? So we donned our costumes (I found a nice gypsy costume [which won several admiring glances and genuine compliments throughout the day], my sister donned a belly dancing costume [which gained her several cat-calls by the vendors as we passed by the food stalls, among others], and my youngest sister dressed as a lady knight [which apparently no one else thought was an eye-catching outfit... shows what they know]) and headed to the festival in our chariot (AKA: car).

We got there pretty early (as in 9:30-10am), and there really weren't that many people milling about at first. But one of the first things we noticed was a peasant fishing in a puddle that had developed in the middle of the dirt road off to our left. If I were writing about this on Twitter or Facebook, that would have been tagged #OnlyAtRenFest.

As for the pickle guys, well what else can I say but that they were hilarious? The food vendors will do pretty much anything to get you to buy from their stalls in the morning, including sing songs about blue (the color of my sister's belly dancing outfit) being their new favorite color and proclaiming quite loudly that gypsies are welcome at their stalls (that would be me!).

And don't forget the wandering entertainers at the festival. My favorite was the guy with the "No Jingle Zone" sign that jumped out in front of us and gave us a hard time since my sister's costume was a bit noisy. As for the stay-in-place entertainment, we saw hypnotists, belly dancers, gypsies (my people! lol), and a "Conversations" booth where a "troll" puppet offered to have a conversation with you.

So, being slightly shy by nature, I let my sister (the belly dancer) spin the wheel. It landed on "kisses & hugs." She immediately changed it to "beaver shoes" and after a short argument about the topic with the 'troll,' the conversation began.

I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, unfortunately (it was hilarious because if anyone can out-talk or out-confuse a troll puppet set on confusing anyone, it's my sister), but the conversation eventually turned to why "bail" had been crossed off the troll's change-collecting cup and replaced with "tips."

It turns out that if you are an activist for troll's rights, the king will shut you away in the dungeon. But don't worry, we were talking to a "free troll," because, "you see, 'bail' has been crossed off. It says 'tips!" After that my sister made up an outrageous story about why she had been in the dungeon; the troll gasped at her confession and promptly turned the wheel to "Gossip & Rumors." I wish I remember more of that entirely confusing yet altogether delightful conversation so you could be laughing with me, but I unfortunately must have gotten a little too confused in the process of it.

After that, we wandered around just looking at the things and I think the scariest thing that day happened just after lunch. There was a moving 'statue' that would move if you put coins into his collection bucket. Except the mask this statue was wearing was the creepiest thing I've ever seen!

He was staring at us. So my youngest sister, probably thinking she was hilarious, asked me for some coins. Being the pushover big sister that I am, I gave her the coins. Immediately, my mind started flashing with bright, neon red and white lights. I could see "WARNING" written across my eyeballs. And I think my stomach must have jumped out of its normal place in my body and run around a corner to hide.

As soon as she dropped the coins in the collection bucket, he started moving. Nothing fast or sudden, but for some reason, slow and sinuously hypnotic movement coming from something not completely human-looking that stares at you like you're a tasty meal is definitely more terrifying than fast, abrupt, scream-inducing actions.

First thing the statue did - and which definitely confirmed all of my fears of being eaten (hey, it's a legitimate fear when you have that thing staring at you like a predator!) - was look at my youngest sister (in the lady knight costume) and rub his belly. If the jaw on that thing had been able to move, I swear it would have been smacking it's sharp teeth together repeatedly. I think my morbid fascination with the thing was enough to sear that little detail permanently in my mind - because I swear I remember its mouth almost moving as if to do so.

Then he stared intently at my other sister (the belly dancer) for a while, but finally turned its gaze on me. Where it stayed. My stomach, which I had previously thought a deserter, very definitely was still inside way down in there somewhere because it promptly jumped up into my brain, jumped out of my body, and ran away as if the devil himself were chasing it.

And that's when my heart decided it didn't like where it was and tried to jump up my throat. One look at the statue, though, and it "slunked" back down in place and decided to beat ten times harder than normal. I thought I was going to pass out.

Then the statue moved. It's hand went to the place where I suppose a heart is supposed to stay and patted it, then reached forward as if asking for my hand. The eyes on that thing glittered maliciously, though. I was for sure going to be eaten alive in front of my sisters. What would my parents say?

Maybe I should have told my sisters to go away so they didn't have to watch a carnivorous monster violently eat their older sister, but I was too terrified to talk, let alone move. The only thing that scared me more than taking the thing's hand, though, was that it would follow me if I just walked away. So I held my breath and moved forward a little bit to take its hand.

Logically, I knew there was a person inside that suit, but when you're in the thick of things, logic consigns itself to some dark little corner at the back of your mind and only decides to come out much later when the coast is clear. So the only option I was left with was this thought that kept flashing across my brain like a news broadcast: I was going to be eaten.

Luckily, I narrowly escaped with my life, since the statue just bowed a little bit and then reluctantly let my hand go. But, despite the knowing that I was being a bit mellow-dramatic, I couldn't help but feel a great sense of relief when I finally turned the corner on that thing to search for my missing stomach. The knowledge that I was quite suddenly free to live the rest of my life - with all of my limbs intact, to boot! - was one of the best parts of the day.

All in all, I'd say it was a successful first venture to the Renaissance Festival. I wonder what next year will bring?