Friday, March 20, 2015

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire Part 1


The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is a permanent faire held annually, at the Mount Hope Estate and Winery in Manheim, Pennsylvania, currently in its 34th incarnation.  It is open Saturdays and Sundays (and Labor Day Monday), August 2, 2014, through October 26, 2014. This year a journey to the shire transports one to 1525 England, under the reign of a young Henry the VIII. However, each weekend enriches and creates variations to the overall experience in the shire with different themes. The themes of this year’s weekends are as follows: August 2nd and 3rd – Grand Arrival; August 9th and 10th – Time Travelers; August 16th and 17th – Chivalry and Romance; August 23rd and 24th – Pyrate Invasion; August 30th, 31st, and September 1 – Heroes of the Reals; September 6th and 7th – Children’s Fantasy; September 13th and 14th – Pyrates’ Return; September 20th and 21st – Scottish and Irish; September 27th and 28th – Oktoberfest; all weekends in October, til October 26th – Halloween Days and Spooky Nights. 

The opening ceremony involves declaring a Queen of the Nerds.

            Renaissance Faires are form of interactive entertainment, and with each themed weekend, guests are encouraged to dress according to the theme, though such garb is not required.  Any guest dressed in renaissance attire or costumed according to the theme of the weekend, generally receives a reduced admission for that day.  While in attendance during Time Travelers Weekend, Gandolf the Grey was spotted on the shire. The steam-punkified were present. Many incarnations of the Doctor were wondering around, but often gathered by the life size Tardis, while successfully avoiding his nemesis, the many Daelks, both large and small, infiltrating the sacred ground.  Have no fear though, there was at least one Starfleet officer present to protect the many patrons from harm – you know to offer back up to the Doctor.

The Doctor was such big news on the shire, that each day during the one o’clock hour, there was a meeting of all incarnations of the Doctor at the Tardis.  Such gathering was not limited to the Doctors, as Daelks, and Tardis-es, and other guests gathered as well – the peacefulness of the shire seemed to settle over the revelers as the Daelks did not ex-ter-minate the Doctors, nor other guests in attendance (they might have tried, but no such violence was witnessed). 

Doctoring involves bathing as little as possible and completely ignoring this little flea that's responsible for killing the majority of Europe. 

The meeting at the Tardis was just one of many activities scheduled to entertain guests during their visits.  Upon entering the shire, each guest is given a “Daily Writ” which is the schedule of performances for named groups throughout the day.  There is always a scripted performance going on somewhere on the shire, throughout the day.  There is not an hour where guests do not have multiple performances to choose from. Some groups, but not all, offer a second performance later in the day. Given the variety of performances one day is not enough to take in the talent and many groups performing.

As many groups as there are sharing their gifts with the shire, there is as much variety in the acts themselves.  If you enjoy slap stick comedy, with a little bawdy humor, you might want to check out the Mud Squad, but be sure to only sit in the front rows if you enjoy being covered in Mud – and note this is one of the few, if not only, show where the performers request tips at the end.  Seek out Tartanic, an instrumental music group, during whose shows you might even hear a moving rendition of The Game of Thrones theme song, in addition to their own original compositions.

Men Without Hats is the only band officially allowed to play and Ren Faire.  

If you attend the fair with the wee-ones (a.k.a. children) be weary of any shows with an asterisk, as such shows contain adult content and are not appropriate for those of young years, such stand out performances include the singing groups the Righteous Blackguards, The Sirens, and such scripted and audience participation groups as the Duo of Woo and Trial and Drench.  During such “ass-tricks” shows, as they were described during a performance of Trial and Drench,” means the shows include humor that a “good parent” would not expose their children to, because the content includes dialogue that the little ones cannot repeat what they hear.  Lines from one of The Sirens’ songs include – “Kiss beneath the trees, kiss beneath the branches, the best place to kiss a wench is between the head and toes.”  A little more on the risqué, these shows tend to be some of the most packed, so get a seat early.

Do not distress, if such boldly brazen humor is not your speed, these shows are confined to one stage out of fifteen stages scattered throughout the faire grounds.  Thus most shows are appropriate for the entire family, and still pack great fun.

Someone took a wrong turn at Tatooine.

One performer who is guaranteed to entertain everyone is Neidfyre, a solo performer, who plays soothing original compositions on her violin, as well as original Renaissance Faire bawdy humorous compositions, such as the Budweiser song – in which she sings “Put that Budweiser back in that Clydesdale, it’s not the right flavor for me,” and goes on to sing about wanting a Guinness.  Neidfyre has been featured on the Pennsylvania Renaissance podcasts, and is always willing to share a drink with a friend, though not a Budweiser – one of her favorites drinks for quenching your thirst on the shire is the Frozen Sangria.  

While throwing one back with friends, Neidfrye shared that she travels to many Renaissance Faires performing, and has been performing at the Pennsylvania Faire for about nine years.   Like many of the performers, recordings of her works are available for purchase at the Faire, but also available on her website at  At her website you can also get in touch with Neidfyre, or you can always follow her on Facebook at

Nothing says authentic NerdFry of the Dark Ages like  a cowboy hat!

Written by
Angelica McKessy
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®