Horse hooves are pounding the ground at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival! Then- BAM! A wooden lance strikes armor, wood splinters fly and both knights are layed out on the ground. I hear a member of the audience ask someone, “Ya think this is fake?” This is asked as the wobbly knights stand up, wood splinters from the lances are scattered on the ground and the sand and dirt pour from the suits of armor. It is a show, some of it may be ‘battle-acting’, but falling off a horse?
A Renaissance Festival?
There are many shows to see, events and activities to take part in and too many shops to visit in one trip, or even two or three trips. Types of events include the Royal High Tea, the Craft Beer Experience, Bagpipe and Drum Competition. Some activities such as jousting, glass blowing and falconry are fun to watch and educational. All shops, activities and events attempt to recreate experiences and the historical setting from the 14th through the 17th century, the renaissance era! Adding to the setting and reality is the many costumed entertainers and festival visitors walking around the grounds.
One Day at RenFest
With all the activities, shows, demonstrations and shops to visit, a one day trip is to RenFest is over quickly. We were there from 10:00am to 4:30pm; as we left we realized that we saw and experienced only the highlights.
As in the renaissance age, humans or animals provide the power to swing, spin and operate the rides. No motors or engines allowed. What a great weight loss program, be a ride operator at RenFest.
Sword Fighting Comedy
Although a little “cheesy”, The Duelist are entertaining and funny at a PG level. They swing steel at each other and words at the audience, especially when a member of the audience heckles them, which is encouraged and always justified.
Fake; are you kidding me? Let’s see, the horses are real, the armor is real, the lances splintering into pieces are real, the knights striking the ground are real. As stated in the program, “Full Contact Jousting, where real men wearing 80 lbs of armor, on top of one ton war horses, charging at full speed, try to knock each other off their warhorse with the tip of a lance.” There is some acting involved, but this is a fun performance to watch.
As has been done for centuries, people continue to use raptors to hunt small game animals. On display at the Birds of Prey booth and during the falconry show are Screech Owls, Barred Owls, a Peregrine Falcon, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Kestrel, several Harris Hawks and others. The falconry demonstration is very informative; a great explanation on how, what and “Be sure you understand what you’re in for, before purchasing a parrot or large bird.”
This craft is hot work. I sit on the front row and sweat with the artist. Two kilns are about 15 feet away and the Kiln temperatures are over 2000 degrees F. The artist does a great job explaining the process from start to finish while he is making a mug, attaching the handle and answering questions from the audience.
Shops and Events
Throughout the day, we attend the four shows described above; sword fighting, jousting, falconry and glass blowing. By the time all four were attended and we stopped to eat lunch, we quickly burn through five hours of the 6.5 hour day. Very little time was left for window shopping, attending any other events or doing anything else. There are many unique shops that sell items such as: renaissance clothing, battle gear, candles, jewelry, table top trebuchets, food, elf ears, etc. Yes, there is a booth that will attach your purchased ears and then “putty and paint” the ears to blend in with your skin tone.
Here are a few photos of the actors, entertainers, workers and festival attendees that dress the part and fully engage in the festival. Most are willing and ready to speak with others and explain their costume and character. I found it difficult not to throw in a ‘whilst’, ‘thou’, and ‘ma lady’ throughout the day!
Are we returning this year?
There are many Renaissance Festivals throughout the U.S. The one that we attended is held in Hammond, Louisiana every weekend in November through the second weekend in December. We hope to return for a second time this year. All of the entertainment is audience rated; just look for the audience ratings (G, PG, PG-13, etc.) online and in the brochure received when entering the festival grounds. The people watching is worth the price of admission.