Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Revisiting the past

I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival this weekend.  I went with some friends. It was our annual coven outing so we went without spouses or children. I have not been unencumbered at the Fair since 2002. It was liberating! 

It also made me very nostalgic.

The first store we went into was a pottery shop. It was the people who made this bowl. I bought it from them in 1997


It is currently on my kitchen island full of recently picked apples.

They had been a guest vendor in 1997. They had a single weekend spot in a temporary pavilion near the jousting arena. Over the years they progressed to a tiny shop on a side corner to a shop in the back row, to this one, on the main road. The temporary pavilion is long gone, replaced with a permanent building.

The next shop was Catskill Mountain Moccasins. They've been in the same place since we started coming to the Fair. I gave them almost an entire month's salary in 1998 in exchange for the custom made boots I was actually wearing right then.


That works out to almost $45 a year for these boots and let me tell you, they are worth EVERY PENNY! They took a cast of my foot and made the boots to fit exactly. Never before or since have I owned a pair of boots that fit as well as these. Every other pair, no matter how well made either squishes my overlarge big toes or blisters my slightly narrower than normal ankles.

The whole Fair was a walk down memory lane for me. DH & I first went in 1993. There were fewer buildings, fewer trees and fewer people.

I bought my first bodice at Moresca in 1994. I still have it but I nearly suffocated myself trying to get it on last year. I'm a good 15lbs heavier and my ribs are wider thanks to 2 kids.

We brought some friends along in 1995 for Celtic Days and DH first attempted a Great Kilt.

1996 saw us all in garb, enjoying the music at Celtic Days. I got a headdress.

The apple bowl and long leather belt, from a leather shop still located on the corner of the back row, highlighted 1997. 

The boots were the shocker of 1998 along with a easier to wear bodice.


1999 was the first Pirate Invasion weekend and DH bought ghillies from the leather moccasin guy who got him drunk on whiskey while he was trying on different pairs.

We added more people to the group for Scottish weekend in 2000.  DH finally mastered the Great Kilt and I had a new dress.


Then there was Sept 15, 2001. That was possibly the most incredible group experience I have ever had. The Fair was packed with people, the most crowded I have ever seen. The energy of everyone was amazing. We'd all been in mourning for 4 days and it was as if we were experiencing a vast collective release.


I also bought my favorite coat from Moresca that year

Sierra Exif JPEG

"You will bring Han Solo and the Wookie to me"

I must admit that one of the things I love about the Ren Fest is that it is a giant outdoor shopping mall. There are so many interesting things to look at and, obviously given my narrative so far, so many interesting things to buy. But 2001 was the end of the indulgent shopping for a significant reason:

I went to the 2002 Fair 37 weeks pregnant. It was 4 hours away from my OB. Some people thought I was nuts to travel that far that pregnant but I thought then, and honestly still do, that having the baby at the RenFest would be an awesome experience.  Now there is a birth story!  I barely knew my OB so it really didn't matter to me where I had the baby. Turned out he wouldn't show up for another 4 weeks.  I had a tree of life hennaed on my belly and walked around the Fair showing it off.


8 months from now, for my 42nd birthday I will be getting an actual tattoo of this, only smaller.

We took 11 month old Havoc, in his baby kilt, with us to the 2003 Fair.

Sierra Exif JPEG

Mayhem joined us for the 2004 Fair



The boys got new kilts when we all went to the 2005.


Then it happened.

They outgrew the double stroller.

They were too little to do much walking and too young to really understand the need to stay near us. No wagon exists that is both large enough to hold 2 children and also small enough to fit in my car. I find keeping track of small boys in large crowds extremely stressful.

So we missed 2006 & 2007. :Sniff:

I was glad for the chance to go this year. I have really missed going to the Fair. I missed the sights and the sounds. The food, the jousting, the shows and seeing all the people in their various garb and costumes. (the Goth contingent was way down this year from previous years. They seem to have been replaced by a plethora of belly dancers.) The Fair has been a part of my autumn activities since 1993 and it's been hard giving it up.

I think next year though we will go as a family. I think the boys will be up for the walking. I think they will be able to sit still and enjoy the shows. They seem to be getting a fairly good grasp on the importance of staying with Mom & Dad when in crowds. I think next year will be the year we restart the Ren Fair tradition.

I am so looking forward to it.


Kresta said...

Nice walk down memory lane.

You asked on my blog about the skillet lasagna noodles - I break them up. Enjoy!

Tracy said...

Wow what a great collection of memories you have there. It looks like something you will definitely pass on as a tradition for the boys.

Mom on the Run said...

I have lived in MD since 1985. Always heard about the MD Ren. Festival. About two years ago we took the children. My thoughts: it was very expensive for a family of 5, not stroller friendly at all, older kids loved the jousting, I loved seeing all the "interesting" folks wandering around with leather mugs hanging from their belts, kids loved the shows, none of us loved the food. I was more than a little irritated by the number of people speaking in faux-English accents. I am a Brit by birth and fake accents annoy me to no end!

Barb said...

Great photos, and I seriously love that coat!

Vanessa said...

That sounds like a lot of fun. Love the tree of life. Very cute.

Teresa said...

How fun!! :) My hubby and I like to go to the fair too, but we're those silly people who actually don't dress up. LOL I always feel like I'd fit in so much better with all the cool clothes and accessories! Great coat!!

Lukasmummy said...

That sounds like a lot of fun. Hugs Crystal xx

Monique said...

What a wonderful walk down memory lane! I really enjoyed reading all about your different memories of the festival and now I'm wishing we had something like that around here to check out!

Nicole said...

That looked like SO much fun. I love that bowl and those boots - yeah I'd definitely wear those!

I'm so glad you shared that with all of us.
I left you a surprise on my blog. :)

Becca said...

What wonderful memories! Looks like a lot of fun! I hope you can continue your tradition next year!!

Jenni Jiggety said...

What a fun thing...they have one here every fall and I always mean to go and then we never do. Next year...

Woman in Training said...

Great post, thanks! I miss going to Ren faires. I used to go all the time, but never dressed up. It was a fun place to pick up unique items. Also, fun to drink beer out of those horns lol. It will be fun to bring the kids when they are (much!) older.

Farrah said...

Oh how neat! A renaissance fair comes to the Raleigh area annually as well and I've been wanting to go and take the kids but something ALWAYS ends up happening and we can never go!! The costumes look great by the way!

Will the tree of life tattoo be placed on your belly or somewhere else?

mrsbear said...

I love the photo journey. It looks like a lot of fun. I haven't been to a renaissance festival in more than a decade. I love the kiddie kilts, definitely a fun tradition. I am actually jealous of your custom made shoes, sounds fabulous.

Jolene said...

How fun! We would love to go to one of those Fairs! We don't have them here. We were going to go to one when we were in Texas, but it was sooooo hot and I don't handle the heat well, so the one and only time we were near one we didn't go :(

I'm glad you got to go again!

Willo Keays said...

I absolutely ADORE your coat!! I live in Florida - and we don't get to wear them here :(

Minxy Mimi said...

That is awesome! I love Renn Faires, I am going this weekend too! You and Havoc and Mayem and DH are so cute in your garb!

Kate said...

Yes, the outgrowing of the stroller, I remember those days. What a reality check it is to have a tiny little crazy person running amuck! Yes, I remember it well. We used to go to ren fair in Minneapolis when we lived there, but now we live in the middle of nowhere, so we do things like Goosefest and Hostfest here!