Based on my “most viewed” information you guys love when I compare things. So I’m going to try and do it more. Please know that these are all my opinions and the people I’m comparing don’t know I exist.
I have been a Ren Faire person since I was 6 months old! I have been more times than I can count, and recently a new faire has opened up in Texas. So let’s look at the differences.
This is the festival that stole my heart. I grew up here, as a little child I would wonder off and sit and talk to costumed strangers. I fondly remember going to candle light mass at the chapel that is now covered in ivy. I have been here as a worker, a college kid looking for fun, and a parent. Here is my honest opinion of TRF.
1. LOTS of stuff to do, something for every type of person
2. Yummy food
3. LOTS of shows to see and a big variety
4. a rich tradition and history
5. Themed weekends (we love the fairy one)
6. School days where local schools can come learn about history
7. For us it’s close enough to just make it a day trip.
8. The parade of characters
9. the show at the beginning before they open the gates (most people don’t know about that)
1. Sometimes the crowds can get out of hand.
2. Lots of drunk people
3. It’s really big for the little people
4. In recent years it seems things are as homemade as they use to be.
5. lots of nakedness
Every year when we head to TRF I get looks from parents, that say “you are brave” or “I would never take my kid there”. This is what I say:
TRF is fine for kids, but you have to know how to do it. You have to be smart about it. First arrive there at 8:30, this allows a close parking spot and you will get to watch the show outside the gates. Second everyone goes left when they get in the gates…go right. There is nothing be food to the right and if you get in front of the crowd you will stay in front of the crowd most of the morning (until you stop and watch bag pipes like we do).
Make sure to get lunch before the parade starts (at noon). The food vendors pretty much outline the parade and if you try to get food after the parade the crowds will be horrible. After the parade we continue making our circle, we stop to watch some shows but then head for the doors to leave.
Remember that close parking spot you woke up so early to get? It will be a blessing now for two reasons. #1 you won’t have to drag tired and overwhelmed kids to the back of the parking lot and if you are brave and want to stay for the fireworks (they are awesome) you can go to the car and relax, picnic, get just out of the fair to calm down before going back in (just make sure to get a stamp).
This festival is in a small town outside of Austin. It’s only 5 years old, but it was created by someone who was in on the beginning of TRF. My kids have been to this one 4 times (so we have only missed one year of it). This is the one we just got back from.
1. It’s small, so you can see it all in a day.
2. It’s kid centered, they have a fairy tea party
3. There is only one place to buy alcohol
4. The jousting is real! the Discovery Channel was even there to film them.
5. Less nakedness, last time I went they didn’t even have a place to buy chain mail
6. The items are more homemade
1. The shows aren’t quiet the same.
2. They don’t have the same variety of faire food.
3. Not a lot of bathrooms…but they are still growing.
4. For us it’s far away and so that means hotel stays, so it becomes more expensive
5. They don’t have the most awesome bag pip players (we love our bagpipes)
I will always tell a beginner faire person, or someone who has small kids but is turned off by the huge TRF to go to Sherwood Forest. It’s centered around Robin Hood and Maid Marian. The place is always crawling with fairies and they interact with the kids all the time. It’s much smaller so the little ones in your life don’t get warn out so quickly. Jillian was able to walk the whole day. They have rules for the workers against too much nakedness and drunkenness, and if visitors are acting bad they will kick them out.
This fair is still growing and every year I’m happy to see people talk about it. They also offer a summer camp for kids to go and stay there for a week and learn just about anything they want to. I haven’t been able to send my girls there yet because it’s so expensive. I enjoy the time of year of this fair because it’s not as hot, but that does mean it might be cold. It also means we can make it an adventure during spring break.
I hope if you get anything out of this post it’s that Ren Fairs are not scary things for children. They are wonderful experiences. So tie your corset up, let your hair down and fine the one that is best for you and enjoy yourself! I always do!