Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Not Your Average Renaissance Festival

I live in Germany, and every summer, my town holds a Middle Ages Festival.  Many of you have been to Renaissance Faires before. The coolest things about my town's festival are:
  • Location
  • Authenticity
I'll show you what I mean.

First, the location: right downtown. In my town, Main Street is littered with historical buildings and two wonderful old towers as it is. Add a few stands and people in costume, and the centuries-old look is complete.

As you can imagine, if it just takes place on Main Street, there's no way to charge admission. The festival's free the entire weekend. You only pay for things you buy.

Next, the authenticity.

There are two stages. For those who want more party and less authenticity, there is one "real" stage with a band and amplifiers. But the other stage is basically an empty square on the size of the cobblestone street. It's for jugglers, acrobats and minstrels you need to get close enough to hear. There is no loudspeaker.

Need more attractions than that? How about ye ole' hand-crank carousel?

The food: don't come looking for chicken nuggets, curly fries or ice cream. We bought a delicious, dark onion bread, fresh from the wood-burning oven, so warm we could barely eat it without burning our fingers.

I didn't have the patience to stand in the long line for a type of Transylvanian cake, baked over an open fire, but it looked amazing too.

Of course you can buy things besides food.  Glassblowers make ornaments. My daughter bought a child-size bow and arrow (with suction-cup "points") that she's been shooting at the living room door ever since. I'm grinning and bearing it.

My son bought a small earthenware mug from this stand. He looks very medieval as he drinks his orange juice in the mornings now.

The blacksmith sold scissors he made himself.

Woven baskets are still used pretty regularly in Germany, for small shopping trips or to transport a minor amount of things. So this stand could be useful. The timbered house in the background is a restaurant.

The festival even sports a camp behind the town's castle, where costumed people live in tents during the two-day festival, cook over open flame, lounge and practice fighting. They looked so much at home, it would have felt intrusive to take a picture.

So our festival might not be as big and spectacular as the Renaissance Faires you're used to. But it has its charm. I'll close with a look back down the street at the second tower, flying the town's traditional black and yellow flags late in the evening.

Interested in more on my town?
Bet you didn't realize signs could be this beautiful.
Why my town's called The Town of Bent Necks.

All pictures by me.

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