Saturday, July 25, 2009

Renaissance Fair

(Joy’s comments as usual are in quotes. Derrill is not. We haven’t done a joint blog in a while, so we thought it would be good to remind you. “I’m usually in quotes because Derrill is usually the one typing.”)

“We have been looking forward to going to this fair since the first year I moved here and married Derrill. I found out about it and Derrill’s family has always enjoyed them in the past. We have just been taking turns going other places and this year was the fair.”

Sterling, NY (location of the Ren. Fair) is a back water place off of three broken trails. It took us a while to find the place despite google maps. “Gratefully Hyrum took a nap on the way up, that is what I call the best case scenario for us to enjoy the fair while we were there.” If you go looking for it go North on the 38 after the 104 until you see signs for it. “Their directions didn’t get us quite far enough”.

“After buying tickets you walk into a little village of buildings and what I saw first was a costume shop, so that you costume yourself. It was really fun to see so many people there already. It felt like we were joining something instead of creating something.” We had looked through the schedule of events for the day and decided contrary to stereotype that Derrill was most interested in hearing music and that Joy was most interested in seeing theatre. “These choices helped us a lot in prioritizing the possible events to attend.” There's a LOT there to do. You could easily come back for a second day.

“We started out (after a bathroom stop) at a Bagpipe and drum concert. Hyrum was really excited. Even before they started playing he would breakout clapping at what seemed to me random intervals.” Hy mentioned that they encouraged audience participation, which they defined as raucous cheering, rolling on the ground, throwing babies in the air, or something else I won’t mention in a family blog. “I’m sure we raised our eyebrows.” I obediently tossed Hyrum in the air at the end of every song. He loved it. As he’s gotten larger, the ceiling has been closer and closer, reducing Dada’s chances for babytossing. “Derrill also mentioned Hyrum has gotten more wiggly” and that reduces safety. We enjoyed them muchly.

Before lunch we tried out another couple acts, but we found them in poor taste. We later learned that the schedule provided a parental warning “which we hadn’t quite noticed” that warned of ‘Bawdy Baskets.’ We lucked out in not having chosen them, but we are good little Puritans and walked away.

They had an assortments of games that we didn’t play, but that looked fun: toss a cannonball into the cannon; really really long wooden slide; shooting crossbows at targets; archery; and the ubiquitous strong man competitions, dart throwing, etc. As several of our hopeful acts let us down, we had some time to amble through the shops instead. I tried on a very comfortable merchant’s shirt which I imagined buying someday when I’m a successful merchant. Joy tried on some floral, ribbony headwear whose name we can’t recall, also to be purchased when I’m a successful merchant.

We did get me a new Robin Hood hat, though. I’ve needed a Merry Men cap for quite some time. “They did have Maid Marian hats there too, but I didn’t try any on.” There was this fetching Byzantine number, though, that accented Joy nicely. “They looked like they’d last a bit longer, but I didn’t think they looked as pretty. Derrill started looking at hats while I was on the camel. We also got a wooden bird for Hyrum that you fill with water and it sings like a cardinal. That guy did a very effective sales pitch when he made my crying baby laugh." (It was quarter past nap time by that point.)

During lunch, I got to sit and chat with a fellow who performs as Will Shakespeare in a one man play (he's the fellow in gray there in the middle). It was a very nice conversation – what he does and why and how long. Comparing the different plays going on that day. Joy’s conversation with one of the behind-the-scenes folks was much odder. Joy had seen the Queen’s lady-in-waiting several times and had commented on her nice dress. “I, of course, didn’t even know she was the lady-in-waiting.” To me, it seemed like she really needed to spend 15 minutes in the shade with a bottle of water. She started this strange response about how nice clothing is, and how it feels, and that she has a lot of it. It was rather disjointed – she had to say something – “I bet they had to do that a lot.”

We did get Joy one good theater piece, though. They performed a shortened version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Wisely, they decided, instead of shortening the entire play to 45 minutes, to just pick out a short section that could be done well in 45 minutes which still gave the flavor of the entire play. Since I was in that play many long years ago, that was my #1 concern. “I liked it. At first I couldn’t hear very well, but we got to a spot where I could hear better. It went on well from there. Puck was pretty funny.” I thought Bottom did quite a good job.

We ended the evening with a lovely trio of medieval instrumentalists – they designed and handmade their own instruments! – who told us the stories behind the songs and showcased 3 different versions of the bagpipe. Who knew? Their music (Bells and Motley) was really what I came to hear. Sitting under the sun, in the shade, listening to floating, lilting, harps, bagpipes, fiddles, and much more unique instruments was rapturous. Joy's favorite instrument is featured in the video above: a hand cranked violin with a keyboard. "I loved the harp, too. That was just my favorite of the ones he made." The strangest instrument - featured in the lower video - was a one-string fiddle that has 4-5 other strings inside the case to reverberate and make the string instrument sound like a reed. Funky.

Actually, the ending piece was the joust. The sound system needed help, and the choreography was silly. “When they finally got to the joust, the couple of minutes of joust was fine. That’s probably why they did the silly choreography: they wanted it to last more than a couple minutes of joust.” They made all of 3 or 4 passes.

They fist-fighted a lot. “They could have done some elimination, you know.” Several people jumped off horseback WWF style. Crude humor was made. Hyrum loved the large crowd cheering. “I think he liked the horses too.” The louder the crowd got, the more boisterous he was. He also clapped for the gratuitous violence, as you can see here. (Note: You can hear Hy screaming in the background. I can't change the zoom on my camera once it's started filming, so I can't get Hy in better focus when I move to him. You can still see his excitement."

Joy loved the mile high, moist chocolate cake we bought on our way out. “That was the best food I ate all day long.” We picked up some CDs of the groups we listened to. They did an effective job parting us from our money.

An exquisite chess set in gold and silver (which we did not get).

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