My kids are pretty interested in all things medieval. You know, knights, swords, shields, axes etc. This last Sunday (Oct. 12) was the last day of the Northern California Renaissance Faire. We thought we’d take them since they’ve never been (we being my wife and I).
As luck would have it the guy in the car that parked next to us came all dressed up as some sort of executioner; black hood, loin cloth and small vest with matching boots, and that’s all. My 10 year old wasn’t sure how to take it. After we got in and started walking around we saw this guy again and again and again. It’s to be expected, the place isn’t that big. It did make Nate squirm a bit. I don’t think he expected anything like that.
It was a fun trip. The boys got wooden swords (well one got a sword, the other an axe) and I got a cottage pie (which was fantastic). Two things occurred to me after leaving though.
I don’t think most people know what the Renaissance was (or even when it was). They just know, for the most part, swords. That means you have elves, fairies, barbarians and the like. I’ve seen that before (not sure I’ve seen elves before, but probably). I also this year saw steam punk, some Victorian folks, lots of pirates, and a couple best described as late 60s early 70s American culture (you know, guy with a leather vest, jeans and the white guy afro and a woman in full flower child gear). It’s almost become Halloween. It’s like they have the thing they like but don’t know where to wear it so they’ll go to a Ren-Faire. Maybe I’m too old for it.
Which leads me to me second realization. It surprised me but I actually think I enjoy the Dickens’ Faire more. True you get folks who don’t get the theme there too (Harry Potter is not actually a Dickens’ character) but I just enjoy the whole experience there more. I think that part of the reason for that is I just like Christmas. I like the decorations, I like bundling up, I like it when it gets dark earlier. I like the smells of Christmas, the tastes, so that helps. It also helps that the Dickens’ Faire is indoors not outdoors (less of the hot yellow sphere making my Irish blood boil).
But something else that actually occurred to me the night before we went plays as big a role I think. We watched a movie called Darkon. It’s about a group of Live Action Role Players (Larpers). The main character (if there can be one in a documentary) asked his son what type of character would he want to be if he could be a fantasy character. It occurred to me that if that question was asked of me, I’d want to be a hobbit. I want to sit on my bench, read books, look at maps, and eat warm filling foods. When I was a kid (and a young adult) I identified with the swordsman. That’s who I wanted to be. I think I’ve outgrown that desire. I want to go for strolls, walk barefoot on the grass, watch my kids play, talk and laugh with friends and family, read a good book, make something good to eat and sleep in a warm soft bed.
I think that’s why I like the Dickens’ Faire more now. Because I’m a hobbit. An overgrown (I’m 6’1”) barefooted hobbit. At my age, I’m ok with that.