Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ren-Fest, Part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, yesterday was our journey back in time to the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival. We had a blast !!!
And by "we" I mean myself, Bob, JT, Bob's friend Matt, and Trudy - one of our sisters from church.
Of course, also mentioned in my previous post was the fact that I didn't have my camera, so there will be no pics with this post. But fret not! There is still a wonderous tale to be told, and since this was the opening weekend, there were coupons to be found at Wendy's for BOGO admissions to the Festival. So, JT and I bought extra tickets so we can go back in a week or so to get the pics you're not getting to see here this time around (hence, the "Part 1" in the title).
However, if you feel something is lacking in this presentation, feel free to visit my September 2007 archives for pics from last year's visit. Or even September 2005 for those ones.

And so begins our illustrious adventure amid the folk of Morelandshire.
We entered the gates and began to wander about among the merchants whose wares were displayed all about the grounds. Bob and Matt immediatelt set out for their own adventure and before we could make it very far we ran into the Washing Well Wenches. We loved their act last year and couldn't wait to see them again this year. They play their part so well and never step out of character. It's great to have the day begin with this kind of fun.
Our first visit was to a candle maker whose specialty was candles made of lotion. They had the most remarkable aromas, but the best part was the fair young maiden who demonstrated the use of the melted candles lotion to soften skin. She took my hand in her own and began to gently rub the melted candle into my skin. It was quite exhilarating, for so many reasons...
Next we entered into a weapons shop. He had a large selection of magnificant, and rather unique, weapons. Unlike most of the other dealers of weaponry, his items had a more barbaric flair to them. A spiked skull mace, a 5' maul/war hammer, scimitars and roughly edged blades of many shapes and designs. I was in my glory. JT even made a rather wise purchase as he has been experiencing some pain in his right knee of late. He found a cane with an ornate handle that hides a sword in the shaft. Bravo!
We ambled about peering into the various markets at the assortment of goods. The pewter shop, the glass trinkets, flower garlands, more weapons, jewelry of both plain and magical design, and so much more. Until we stopped to listen to Temujin the Storyteller. And such stories he did tell. A tale of love, of Jasmine and Sulliman, that evoked the emotions in those of us who have experienced the passion of true love, while teaching the younger audience that romance comes at a price ("Without finance, there can be no romance." - Temujin). He also told tales of creativity and it's usefulness in real life. After all, this has been his job since 1968 - as long as JT has been alive...
We then moved on to the shaded grove below the main festival ground. It was a hot day and the shade made things so much more enjoyable. We looked about at the wares of more vendors, and stopped to look at some fine leather. The gentleman whose shop it was spoke to me of how impressed he was with my hair and the markings on my shoulder. We exchanged pleasntries and and asked questions of one another. He explained to me that one of his favorite parts about being on the Ren-Faire Circuit is that he gets to me an assortment of unique individuals, and he truly appreciated my uniqueness. He complimented me by telling me that he could tell I was an independent thinker and a man of integrity - since I seem to care little for the opinions of what others might think of me (and this compliment would be reitterated to me later on by someone else). I thanked him and told him that I appreciated his words and enjoyed the conversation we had and looked forward to seeing him again.
We headed back up toward the main festival grounds to prepare to go to the Jousting Tournament. BUt we had planty of time before having to be there. So JT tried his hand at some of the tests of skill and strength that were on hand. He was quite proficient with the throwing knives and axes, as well as the shuriken. he also rang the bell witht the sledge hammer. I merely came close to ringing the bell. As for my skills with tthe knives and whatnot. I didn't try this year. I do OK with the axes, and the shuriken, but when it comes to the knives I'm more likely to bludgeon my enemy to death with the handle of the knife, from 20 paces no less, than stick the blade in his heart.
Thus we moved on to other places before making our way to the Jousting Arena.
Upon our arrival at the arena we immediately sought shade at the top of the hillside next to the arena. It was the Test of Skills challenge that we were about to see. Skills, indeed! The knights were all quite accomplished with the horse and lance and determined that a Test of Combat would be necessary to decide which of them was the best. But that would happen in two more hours. And that was just fine with us since we wanted to see the Washing Wenches.
JT and I were able to participate in last years Washing Wenches show since they love to use audience particpation. This year, however, they had new victims. It just happened to be a friend of ours named Becca. We had met up with her last year at the Fest, and had bumped into her again this year with her boyfriend (not the same one from last year - in case you've looked at the pics). The Washing Wenches chose him to be their latest victim and Becca was happy to play along. The show was funny and the crowd responded well.
From there we moved along to the watch The German Brothers perform. They are white european rappers - I don't get it...
The show had it's funny points, but I would've been OK missing it. Still, as these two roamed about the festival grounds, we had a lot of fun with them. We joked with any and every performer that we ran into. It was great.
We decided to move on to the Naughty Bawdy Babes show. "Saucy" does not begin to describe these two ladies. Several of the shows begin with disclaimers that no one under the age of 18 is permitted without an adult, and anyone who is easily offedned should leave as well. This was one of those shows. It's also one of those shows where the performers will look at the audience and say "If your kids get thses jokes; it's not our fault!". At one point in the show the Babes used JT, and then later myself, as "props" for the tales their music tells. So now we know what it feels like to be used as a sexual object - yeah, we're OK with that...
I have to admit, the really great part about this show is how they collect their "gratuities". All of the other actors pass around a hat or a basket, these ladies ask that you place your money into their cleavage. I gave Loosey, the redheaded sister 3 dollars. One for the show, one for the cheap thrill of using me during the show, and one just because I liked putting money between her breasts...
Please, no complaints! This was all harmless, if less than innocent, fun.
Anyways, we strolled around in the lower grove some more. We enjoyed our turkey drumsticks at the beginning of the Naughty Bawdy Babes show. So we could move on away from the Pirates Pub. I found the artist who makes the bronze roses, and bought one. I don't know who I'll be giving it to, but I at least want to have it for when I do need it. I also got to speak to her about other designs she does. She gave me her card and asked me to call her so we could talk about some of those since I'm really interested in what she does. I also have a rather unique idea that she may be able to work with. But I'm not saying anything more about that.
After this we went back up to the main grounds so JT and Trudy could watch the Belly Dancers. I just wasn't in the mood to do that so I wandered about some more and bumped into Bob and Matt in their adventures. Matt had purchased a Spartan helmet (yes, made of steel!) and a black cavaliers hat with a large blue feather. Matt wore the helmet, Bob was wearing the hat. Bob was also wearing his Poppin Fresh T-shirt, which you may have seen in the pics from Purple Door, and it was getting hijm a great deal of attention. Young, maidens fair were all but too anxious to give him a little squeeze. After all, the T-shirt does encourage that. And Bob, being Bob, would always ask if they were going to take him home now. So far no takers...
I think I can live with that.
We had one last show to watch after I hooked up with JT and Trudy again; Cast In Bronze. This was the Carillon that I posted about with last years Ren-Fest posts about the various performers and shows. Always an amazing show. 37 bronze bells of varying sizes and tones weighing 4 tons. You'd have to see it and hear it to believe it, and the beauty of it all is that you can hear this thing echo through the grove through the entire performance. So, even if you aren't sitting there to see it, you get to enjoy the ethereal sound that it makes.
When the show was doen, JT asked the performer if he could use some of his music on his podcast, and the performer was happy to give JT permission. So I'll be looking forward to that episode.
Shortly there after we left, but this was not the end to our day. We had a combination Wedding Reception/Baby Shower to attend for one of our friends. They were married in June, but never had a reception and now with Baby on the way they decided to kill two birds with one stone. It was vaguely uncomfortable as a guy to be at what I knew was also a baby shower. But there was food there so I wasn't complaining. the games kinda freaked me out, but I really didn't have to particpate in any since they were geared more towards couples. Fortunately, I'm not a couple - and any attempts to try to compare my close friendship with JT to being a "couple" would've ended in bloodshed, so nobody really tried.
It was nice to be able to celebrate with them. And when it was time for us to go we were all exhausted enough to make sleeping tonight peaceful and undisturbed.

Now I can't wait to go back to the Ren-Fest to take pictures. I think you'll love it too.

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