One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up, was going to the Renaissance Festival.
We went every October, rain or shine. The weather was usually brilliant, even if it was rainy.
The one we always went to was in Bonner Springs, Ks. It is heavily wooded and dotted with little shops and food areas. I have seen other festivals that, in comparison, were quite generic. This one is simply magnificent.
You park your car in a huge field. There is nothing in sight except a giant outdoor amphitheater next door. You begin to walk up to the entrance and immediately begin to see all the trees in beautiful Autumn color. The outside entrance is very peasanty and rustic.
Once inside the wooden gates, you are transported to a different time. Each person working the festival is dressed in medieval garb. Anything from peasant clothing, to detailed royalty clothing in deep, rich colors. Back in the 80's, every single employee spoke in an English accent, even the food workers were dressed appropriate of the time and spoke in this accent.
Walking around, you smell the woods, incense burning and nature all around. A little further and you are greeted with the smell of turkey legs, hearty soups served in bread bowls or my all time favorite...pizza on a stick. For dessert I always had an Orange Ice, which is an orange sliced in half with an orange flavored icee/sherbert concoction.
Many of the shops were nestled among the trees, lined up in little nooks. They were full of artisans who made their own goods. Leather wear, giant walking sticks, windsocks, incense, candles, all kinds of things. My dad always bought a wreath made of ribbons for me to wear on my head.
My favorite kid activities were the face painting, games and elephant rides.
I loved getting my face painted and one year I saw the art teacher from my elementary school. I was so excited to see her there. It's always neat to see teachers in the real world. I now thought she was cooler than ever.
One of the games I always played was jousting. You got on a toy horse that was suspended by two ropes. Then they handed you your own jousting stick. They would pull and pull and lift you into the air. They let go and you went flying down! You had to hit the target with your stick and get the ring off the little gadget (I never won). There was also log rolling competition and one game where you sat on a giant log and tried to knock your opponent off with a burlap sack.
Toward the middle of the day, we always sat to watch the real jousting show. It was pleasant to take a load off in the stands and watch the giant horses race back and forth with the men in their suits of armour.
If you needed to use the restroom, even that was outdoors and whimsical. Nothing like any other outdoor event. Every area of this place was in character. The outhouses were wooden and called "Privies".
As the day wound down, the air would get cooler. The aromas were deeper and your sense of peace was at an all time high.
There was a parade at the end of the day. You would wait by the wooden exit gates. While waiting, children could run in a circle and wrap ribbons around a tall pole, which was beautiful.
Once you heard the parade coming, there was silence among the onlookers. Only the sound of medieval chatter among the characters in the parade.
There were peasants, court jesters, children acrobats and finally the King and Queen. All were dressed of the time. They were singing, dancing and laughing loudly.
Walking back to your car, you knew the enchantment was over.
It would be a whole year before going back. Many times were with my dad and his friends. I remember them well and they too reveled the experience.
I went every year as a child and even into my twenties.
When I grew up and moved away, I missed it for the first time. As the years went by, I missed a few more. But when I met my husband, I insisted on taking him.
He had never been to one and even if he had, it would not compare to this one. We had a wonderful time.
It had been several years since I'd been to this magical place. This place so dear to my heart since childhood. Now, to experience it with a brand new love in my life was just.....
A festival of love.
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