Monday, October 12, 2015

Renaissance Festival

The Renaissance Festival was scheduled to open last weekend. However, opening weekend was postponed due to the rain and floods created from Hurricane Joaquin. I had saved this coupon we received in the mail and knew that if we were going to go, Sunday was our one chance. The kids were free, but at a whopping $24 per person, I wouldn't even consider paying $48 just so Jesse and I could get inside the festival.

I didn't think I'd we'd be able to go to the Renaissance Festival this year because I had youth group planned. When I sent my weekly reminder text to the youth group, 7 out of 8 youth texted me saying they had other plans (all different things) and couldn't attend. I decided to cancel youth. The one teenager that could attend texted me saying "I don't think it's a good idea to cancel today's program. The Bible says where two or three gather in my name, I will be there. (Matthew 18:20) Even if we spend 30 minutes there is still something to gain."

At that point we were already at the Renaissance Festival and I felt so guilty and conflicted the entire time. I am already having to leave our annual family beach trip a day early this weekend so I can lead a youth event. People seem to forget that I'm just VOLUNTEERING and sometimes I'd rather spend time with my own family. Of course, there was truth in the teen's convictions, which is why I felt so guilty.

Nonetheless, our family was at the festival (along with a thousand other people) and we were ready to explore medieval life. Many people dressed as pirates, fairies, knights, jesters, queens, etc. While I waited to get tickets, Jesse helped Jackson decorate a free pirate hat.

According to the website description:
"The Festival is a full day of entertainment and pageantry as history comes alive with hundreds of costumed characters recreating a 16th Century European Marketplace. It's a 25-acre village nestled in the forest and meadows, complete with castles, cottages, kitchens and pubs, filled with activities. You'll find music, comedy and theater, food and drink, fine hand-made arts and crafts, artisan demonstrations, games and rides."

The amount of work necessary to create the ornate market more than justifies the high ticket price. (It's just not a price I'm willing to play. The employees do not break character at all. Between the smell of turkey legs, sound of harp music, and elaborate costumes, it's easy to get caught up in the time period.

The biggest challenge to the festival is how few free things there are. All of the shows and entertainers are free. We stayed and watched a few of them.

Of course, the kids weren't nearly as interested in the shows as they were medieval hats, fairy wings, and carousels. 

We tried to spend most of our time finding free things, such as silly photo stands,


and the petting zoo.

Amelia was SO happy in this area and bravely touched every animal she could.

Jackson was grumpy because we wouldn't let him ride the pony or buy animal feed.

Jesse and I took turns pulling the wagon. It was challenging at times pulling 100+ pounds through thick mud. Jackson walked some, but we also alternated carrying him on our shoulders.

The highlight of the festival was the Tournament Joust. We didn't know how the trio would react, so we get there 30 minutes early to guarantee a spot on the front row. Strollers and wagons are not allowed, which meant the kids had to sit with us. Thankfully we landed a great spot where the kids could walk around a bit as needed. We also chose to withhold lunch until this point, since food would keep the kids content. (Confession: You aren't supposed to bring outside food, but this rule doesn't seem to be enforced at all.)

The kids were mesmerized by the joust. James, who doesn't know the word "horse", kept shouting, "Cow! Cow!" I feared the girls would be frightened, but they were equally excited. Jackson got into the competition and chanted with the rest of the stands, "Go, Max!".  We were able to stay for the entire event!

We promised Jackson he could pick one thing to spend money on (ride, toy, food, etc). We originally budgeted $5, but let him pick out a $6 sword. The wooden sword is unfinished, which means we'll be able to customize it with paint.

Our final stop was the one free ride, which was a swing pushed by an employee. Since the kids were so young, she allowed an adult to sit with them. Jesse sat with all four kids while I took a picture. The ride was cut short due to Amelia's unhappiness.

Thankfully I had previously counted the number of rows where we parked (15 rows past the fork in the road). This made an easy exit to the park, but we still waited in long lines to leave the festival.

Despite feeling uncomfortable over cancelling youth, I enjoyed spending the day as a family. The kids were so well behaved and Jesse and I enjoyed ourselves, which is impressive since we were literally weighed down with children while navigating huge crowds, direct sun, and no food or water. (I didn't anticipate spending so long there so I only packed the kids' food. Oops!) There was a time when Jesse and I would have become very frazzled in these situations, but I think having triplets has forced us to mellow out. 

I can't think of any other time the kids could be immersed in medieval life. I hope we'll be able to attend the Renaissance Festival as the kids get older, though we might have to take out a loan to do so!

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