The Texas Renaissance Faire in McDade TX, off 290If you follow 290 from Austin towards Houston, eat a little BBQ in Elgin and load up on the water bottles and sun screen, you'll be ready for the Sherwood Forest Faire in McDade Texas (Bastrop County). The faire is open for one more weekend in 2011 - the weekend of April 2nd and 3rd. Check out the official site linked above for details. Oh, and be prepared to be hot, dusty and entertained.
Medieval Costumes, for Peasants to RoyaltyWe dragged three kids down to the sprawling Sherwood Forest Faire compound there last weekend and spent a few hours wandering around between little medieval shoppes selling fantastical medieval clothing such as corsets and renaissance shoes (leather, funky, some curled up toes!). The fascinating guy on the right said he made his whole medieval costume by himself, down to dyeing the sheep fur for his wrap. He graciously showed me the inside - stained with the colors of dye he experimented with until he got the color he wanted. Orlando had to drag me away - I coulda snapped photos of him all day long - he was holding up in the heat better than the rest of us, for sure.
Renaissance Leather WorkingWe were particularly fascinated by the quality of the leather wares, and the number of people skilled in the craft of sewing leather by hand into period renaissance costumes. One glorious vest was for sale for $550 and I envy the lucky man who gets to wear that home. The hands of the man working on the brown leather in the other photo were moving so fast it was hard to capture the skill of his leather sewing with the camera. In, out, up and down, around and around he just kept adding stitches as I snapped away. He said he's used to posing for photos, but that most people want pix of him, not pix of his hands!
Medieval WeaponryOne BIG deal at the ren faire was medieval weaponry: knives, axes, bows and arrows. Anything that could be used to slay an enemy, fell your dinner, or pick the grit out from under your fingernails. The weaponry stuff was cool, as in, I wanted some, and so did the boys, apparently, since I had to drag them away from the shoppe selling knives, really really sharp knives. The kids had some fun at the archery area, making me wish I'd allocated more cash for the afternoon - good exercise, good fun, good experience all around.
Play Hard, No Electronics AllowedIn between gawking at the period wares, the kids played a few games like "stay on the log while slamming your sister with a pillow", and "who can make good on their boasting that they won't fall off the spinning rope ladder". Most of the games they played cost $2 or $3 but lasted a lot longer than typical carnival games and were far more physically involved, which is good for wearing out little boys.
Medieval JoustingThe final hit of the day was a little jousting fun between two knights. Mounted on huge horses, clad in medieval armor, these guys really know how to put on a show. The one in silver got knocked off in an early round and the act of getting him back on his horse was quite the spectacle - how would you climb back on loaded down with all that metal, a feathered helmet and cowboy boots? The Sherwood Forest Faire compound will be hosting a Medieval Jousting Tournament on April 9th, 2011. That day isn't a "faire day" but the official web site says that some shoppes will be open and they'll have food and beverages. If you like period stuff, and want to spend some quality outdoor time, it's worth the drive down to McDade for an afternoon. They'll probably be packed this weekend, so get there early and save yourself a long schlepp across the dusty parking lot.
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