I recently returned from a day trip to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA. I will say, I had a fabulous time, regardless of my disappointment upon discovering the exclusion of a great deal of Renaissance features. I was banking on seeing my college concentration (Medieval/Renaissance Literature) come to life. Here, you will encounter aspects of the Renaissance ranging from jousting and juggling to fashion of the time and hints of Shakespearean-like speech. Having concentrated more in the Medieval and early Renaissance periods, I was crushed to see how little Middle English was present in the faire. I came across a wine referencing Chaucer, but very little reference to or use of written Middle English. Looking through the program booklet, I was surprised that there were few, if any, mini Shakespeare plays or sonnets, or anything Shakespearean, being enacted. Shakespeare was as big a star in his days as he was to the present day. Perhaps King Richard’s Faire decided to exclude Shakespeare (to an extent) because many people in our society only associate the Renaissance period with Shakespeare, and the coordinators of the faire wanted people to discover other aspects of the time period? I was also informed that gypsies and fire-eaters would be present, but was unfortunate enough to attend the faire on a day when these performances were not scheduled.
King Richard’s Faire is quite the money pit, charging a whopping $26 entry and overpricing their food as well. I must say, it was worth it, at least for the food and comedic performers throughout the faire. Also, the costume shops were incredibly pricey; there was an excessive amount of costume shops for a one day trip. One would need to dedicate hours to shopping in the costume shops alone if they were set on getting the right corset, hose, dress, etc. There were excellent costumes, representing the Renaissance period solidly, especially in the genuine fabrics (specifically genuine leather jackets and armbands and wool coats). I would recommend the faire for their costumes alone, if I was willing to splurge on the gorgeous fashion. I was glad to see one aspect of the faire that was not overpriced. The alcoholic drinks were decently priced and plentiful. I was pleased to see mead available, along with hard cider and beer. It seems the faire coordinators chose aspects of the Renaissance that would appeal to the public most (readily available alcohol, for instance), rightfully so.
Of the shows I attended, I would recommend the Cat Show, Paulo’s Juggling Show, and the Mud Show. Anyone seeking a good laugh should see Paulo juggle, cracking jokes left and right with the audience. Also, the Mud Show teases and plays on Renaissance hygiene and love, successfully entertaining the audience. As for the Cat Show, one can expect to be in awe of the great, wild beasts brought on stage, being given the privilege of viewing the World’s Largest Cat. Plus, who could resist adorable tiger cubs?! Though, I was questioning why the faire chose to include the Cat Show as a Renaissance display. I decided, perhaps, because these cats were more prominent during this period, nearly endangered/extinct in our time.
Regardless of my criticisms, overall, I recommend attending the Renaissance Faire. Set off in the woods of Carver, MA, with beautiful Renaissance buildings, one escapes the loud technologies of the modern day; in replacement of these sounds, one hears the sounds of the Renaissance market, as artisans attempt to sell their merchandise to passerbys, while teasing and cracking jokes with everyone. There are many opportunities to attempt Renaissance activities, from archery to axe throwing. The full itinerary ensures for a fabulous day away from work and home.