You may have heard that there are only two seasons in Minnesota, Winter and Road Construction- but for some people, it’s Winter and Fair Season. The State Fair, aka “The Great Minnesota Get Together” is always fun, but if you’re looking to try something unusual this year, you may want to visit The Renaissance Festival.
This year marks the 43rd season of the Renaissance Festival in Minnesota, the largest festival of its kind in the United States, gathering 300,000 visitors annually.
The Festival is open weekends from August 17 to September 29, plus Labor Day and Festival Friday, September 27. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tickets are $21.95 for adults, $12.95 for children ages 5-12, and 19.95 for seniors ages 62 and older. Season passes are available for adults, $84.95, and children, $46.95. A two day pass is $33.95. You can also save on tickets by buying in advance from local vendors- Walgreens, Menards, Super America and Whole Foods, or by visiting the Renaissance website, see link.
There is free parking, but heed a word of warning, there are very few signs or labels with the exception of some wooden unicorn heads, so make a mental note of where you parked or bring the key fob that beeps to give you a clue where you are in the huge parking field.
Each weekend has a special theme, including Italian Carnival, Ye Old Pet Fest, Royal Ale Fest, Silk Road Discover the Riches, Highland Fling, Wine Chocolate & Romance, Oktoberfest and Shamrocks & Shenanigans. So if you are particularly interested in archery, belly-dancing or Fairy contests, you might want to select a specific time to attend. But don’t worry, there are always many things to do at the festival and something is sure to strike your fancy.
Some festival goers are very serious about historical accuracy and traditional events. For these people, events such as the Long Bow competition or a viewing of the Elizabethan Syngers might be appropriate. The Raptor Center presents speeches and demonstrations on the history of Falconry, and there are many traditional craftspeople selling their wares, including silversmiths, cobblers and tailors.
Others, like this author, enjoy when the entertainers can see the humor in the historical anachronisms and make us all laugh at ourselves. For folks like us, entertainment such as “The Danger Committee” is right up our alley. No, it’s not historically accurate to watch a Ninja and a 16th century European man juggling live stun-guns aimed at a hapless victim who stands in the middle on a metal ladder. But it’s fun nonetheless. If you’re a fan of Frodo or you’ve spent too much time in your life playing video games, you may be the butt of one of their jokes, but don’t take it too seriously, they’re also laughing at themselves, and if you find the humor offensive, you can simply put on headphones and watch them throw knives at each other. For more information about The Danger Committee, see their website.
Then there are the forms of entertainment that fall somewhere in between. The Fandazzi Fire Circus has been performing stunning fire dances and fire manipulation feats for ten years. The Fandazzi group says that the origins of their art are varied, including influences from Ancient Egypt, Polynesia and New Zealand. The performance has a gypsy- like feel and the romantic fire dance between one of the couples is something between a tango and a circus act. These acts are so beautiful and streamlined that it’s easy to forget for a second that these people are actually juggling items that are fire! The three piece Fandazzi band plays original music to accompany these impressive feats, and their c.d. is sold outside of the show. For more information about the Fandazzi Fire Circus, see their link-
If you’re a fan of psychics, this is the place for you. The fair includes readings by palmists and tarot card readers, most at about $30.
Like all fairs, you can easily spend way more than you expected on items you never dreamt that you needed, as well as on food. If you want to truly get your money’s worth, look at the daily schedule and try to attend every event in which you are interested. The entertainment is free with the price of admission, and if you see even just one spectacular show, it’s worth the cost.
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