Two years ago, Owen insisted on being a knight for Halloween. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it was a rather “mature” request for a two-year-old. But I did know better. In the weeks leading up to his decision to go medieval in his costume choice, he had become obsessed with a particular Backyardigan’s espisode called “The Tale of the Mighty Knights.” But even more influential was his experience seeing real knights (or so he thought) in person at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
He’ll soon get to relive that impression-making encounter — the Maryland Renaissance Festival kicks off its 34th season this Saturday, August 28. And to celebrate the opening, all kids ages 11 and under are free for the first two days!
Ah, Renn Fest. It’s easy to see how little ones can be inspired by a visit to the annual faire. The English Tudor village set amongst 25 acres of woods in Crownsville, Maryland, really does feel like a trip through time. Both employees and hardcore Ren Festers dress the part and speak it, too. Peasant women, horsemen, knights, and squires address each other as well as guests with “Good Morrow” and leave with “Fair thee well.” (I find it quite refreshing, particularly when I’m referred to as “M’lady” rather than usual “Ma’am.”) Magicians, mimes, and villagers stroll the grounds and interact with people as if it were just another day in King Henry’s court.
And it’s not just the people that look the part; the village also looks like it was plucked right out of the 16th century. Craft shops, food stands, pubs, and stages are built in English Tudor style, a jousting ring displays matches and all their pageantry (a bit of trivia: jousting is Maryland’s state sport), food stands and pubs serve big turkey legs and quaffs of beer, outdoor stages and arenas host a variety of Renaissance entertainment—plays, magic shows, dance and music performances, sword swallowers, comedy shows, and puppeteers. And plenty of it is geared specifically toward kids. There are children’s plays that encourage audience participation, juggling acts that thrill all ages, even a show featuring dogs doing cool tricks.
The kid fun extends well beyond the live entertainment. Little ones can play on a pirate ship playground, get their faces painted, try their hand at some old school games, and take a ride down a giant slide. Adults will like most of it just as much as their kiddos.
So, now that you have all the background on Ren Fest, here are the logistics: This Saturday, August 28, marks the start of the 2010 Maryland Renaissance Festival and it will run every weekend through October 24. (One of the best things about Renn Fest is that it lasts for several weeks—from late summer to early fall—so it’s easy to find at least one day to experience the medieval magic.) It’s open from 10am – 7pm, rain or shine.
Admission to the festival is $18/adult, $8/children 7 and older, free for children 6 and under. But, as mentioned earlier, children 11 and under are free this weekend, August 28 & 29. A two-day adult pass is available for $28. Once you are in the fair, entertainment is free, though food, games, and the slide and extra.
The festival is located at 1821 Crownsville Road near Annapolis. Visit the website for directions.