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Author Topic: First timers, where should we go?  (Read 2850 times)

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Offline Amberite

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First timers, where should we go?
« on: August 13, 2011, 02:07:38 AM »
My gf and I are in our late 20s, and never been to a ren faire. However, we're both sort of perpetual kids and we love this sort of stuff, so we decided to finally make a trip to our first ren faire!

We live in the NYC area, so there are a few that are in our area - several in NY, PA, MD, etc. We both have good jobs so money is not really an issue. Also, we don't have any kids, it's just the two of us. We just want to have a great day out. I read a lot about the main NY and PA faires, but I can't decide which one is the better one. Also it seems that MD has a lot of visitors, so that's an option too.

Any advice on which faire would suit us best? Any help is appreciated :)

Offline Norfolk

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2011, 12:09:21 PM »
Welcome, newbies!  The Baroness and I sincerely hope that you will find as much joy in the renaissance world as we have.

Which Faire?  That's a toughie, especially since you didn't specify a time frame.  Nonetheless, herewith a few thoughts that you might find useful:  Although we have attended neither, both the Maryland and Bristol (NY) Faires get rave reviews from friends and acquaintances who have attended them.  The Michigan festival also gets many positive comments.  The closest Faire that we HAVE attended and can vouch for is the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  It is one of our favorites, and we will be going there over the labor day weekend.  

Once you have picked a festival to attend, please heed this word of advice:  GO IN PERIOD GARB.  It doesn't have to be expensive, elaborate, or historically correct, but wearing any old renaissance-style costume will make a HUGE difference in the experience you have on your first visit.  I'm sure other RF'ers who chime in will second my motion.

Good hunting, and please let us know what you decide.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2011, 12:10:19 PM by Baron »
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Offline Bahlien

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2011, 12:29:37 PM »
I haven't been out that way to those fairs before. However I will say for a first time going to a renaissance festival you will have a good time, regardless of which one you choose to go to. Hold no expectations, and go in to be surprised. Also if you're not sure which ones to visit... set aside some travel time and visit all of them. Best way to know/decide for sure. :)

 Also, if you choose to dress up (rent costumes?) Don't worry terribly much if its fancy or even directly "period". My first time dressing up at fair consisted of a couple long belts wrapped around an old long coat, a home made wooden sword and a big billowing cloak.  Was the best time I ever had getting into a costume and going to Faire.  But if dressing up is not your thing, worry not! There is still good times to be had. 100% positive you will see things that the vendors have that you'd like to get as well.
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Offline Betty Munro

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2011, 01:00:09 PM »
Maryland, Maryland, Maryland.  It's my home faire and I miss it so much!!! 
Going in garb (costume) or not, will effect the experience.  Going in garb makes you more a part of the entertainment.  Going in plain clothes makes you a spectator.  Going for your first time without a friend with good garb to borrow, I would suggest you go in jeans and a t-shirt instead of a bad Halloween costume.  Trust me, you'll look back in a few years and think, OMG, I wore that???  If you enjoy the atmosphere, and you enjoy the acts, and you have a great day, then by all means go home and get sewing.  Or shopping.  The vendors LOVE IT when you come, get hooked, and spend the next few years buying garb and accessories.  But that is a whole different conversation ...
I've been to a handful of faires around the states and I must say, they all generally have the same atmosphere.  If you like one, you'll like 'em all.  If it ain't your gig ... well, nobody's perfect.  LOL
Look forward to hearing about your experience!!!

Offline Lady Renee Buchanan

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2011, 04:29:50 PM »
I haven't been, but during the autumn, King Richard's Faire in the Boston, MA area is supposed to be quite good, and it isn't too far for a weekend getaway trip. 

I haven't been to this either (we mostly stay in the Midwest area, but have travelled to TX & FL for faires), but I have friends who have attended the NY Renaissance Faire, Stirling Forest in Tuxedo, NY, and they had a great time.    It's on through Sept. 25th.

Also, there is the Stirling Renaissance Festival (not the same as the one above) in Stirling, NY, north of Syracuse.  Next weekend is the last weekend.  That's on our bucket list of faires to attend, a bit far to travel from Illinois, so it's still in the dreaming stage.

I agree with everyone else.  Wear garb!  It's way more fun.  The first faire we attended, my husband wore a maroon polyester choir robe.  Over the top, I made a sleeveless long vest out of red, gold and orange brocade curtains that I bought at Goodwill.  He took twine and put some large round wooden beads on it and took 2 pieces of wood & glued them together to make a cross necklace.  We had the best time, and I still tell him he was the best dressed monk in curtains.    ;D
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Offline Celtic Lady

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2011, 04:41:22 PM »
The first time my husband (my boyfriend at the time) went to faire we went in mundane clothes the first day. We enjoyed it so much that we went back the next day again wearing mundane clothing but went shopped at a couple of the vendors booths and bought some garb. One of them even let us store our old clothes in a bag at their booth while we enjoyed the rest of the day at faire. It was a great experience. You may want to even try that for your first time. After that you may become "addicted" to garb.

Offline scarletnyx

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 04:18:03 AM »
Hrm, that's hard to give advice on..  I haven't gone a'garbin' yet, but I will try to chime in with my two cents!

My first experience was at a -huge- fair, TRF to be exact. I had never been to anything quite so large and immersive in my life. In this case, being dressed in jeans and a t shirt allowed me to " get used to" the atmosphere and not feel too overwhelmed. Like I said, this was a huge fair, so maybe a smaller, more intimate fair would get rid of that feeling. Try maybe hitting up a smaller fair, dressed in dane clothing or really simply garb ( something like this maybe? http://www.garbtheworld.com/items/newbie.shtml ) to get used to it.

This year, however, I am going in garb with my husband. It has already added another layer of experience to our fairegoing ways, and I am already picking out my next set!

so it's a completely awesome experience, no matter what you do, but I would encourage garb at some point ( depending on the size of the faire you choose to go to ) just so you can easily slide into the wondrous world all around you!
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Offline Rogue Hidesmith

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 06:54:18 AM »
I've been to all three of the faires you mentioned, MDRF, PaRF and NYRF. I love going to all three of them! That said, there are some distinctness between them. Here's my take on the differences:

PaRF: My home faire :D Referred to by some as "Ren Disney". Fully Paved. Food & Drink almost completely run by faire mgmt. Very clean, shows are very family friendly, some bawdy acts.  Most expensive gate price of the three faires.  Least shaded of the three (but still very shaded, mind you) Beer and Wine are made on site. (Swashbuckler brewing Co and Mt Hope estate winery). A lot of cast-patron interaction. No passing of the hat at the end of shows.
http://www.parenfaire.com

NYRF: Closest to you. Middle of the road ticket prices. A bit "dirtier" than the other two, both in content and in landscaping. Many parts of the faire are not shaded and in the open, but at least half the faire is in the forest. Mostly paved, the rest is hardpacked mulching. Beer/wine/mead commercially available, different varieties at different pubs. Food booths seem to be independently owned and operated. A little less cast-patron action than PaRF, but much more than MDRF. No hat passing at the end of shows (at least that I've seen)
http://www.renfair.com/ny/

MDRF: Furthest from you. Cheapest tickets.  Almost completely unpaved, very hilly. The most shade of the three faires. This faire is huge! Probably the biggest variety of vendors of the three faires. Based on King Henry the 8th instead of Queen Elizabeth. Very little cast-patron interaction (at least in my experience). Attendance is "capped" so there's a small chance you may be turned away at the gate if you happen to get there late on a busy day and haven't previously bought your tickets. Shows are very entertaining with a nice variety. Not particularly bawdy.  I believe there's hat passing at the end of the shows, but I can't recall as it's been a few years since I've gone.
http://www.rennfest.com/

And as far as garbing goes, I'd recommend just throwing something together for your first time to a faire. My first garb was a pair of black cotton dress pants, an oversized white dress shirt and a circle cape a friend of mine made. Total cost: $6 for the cape material:)

No need to drop hundreds of dollars on something you may only do once :)

Hope this helps you decide! :)



Oh, and one thing to note is that the one that pops your faire cherry will likely be the one you base all your other faire experiences on (for better or worse) ;)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 06:59:37 AM by Rogue Hidesmith »
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Offline Merlin the Elder

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 08:04:10 AM »
I'm curious, Rogue... What's with this "capped" attendance? There's no mention on their website. How in the world could they turn someone away without warning?
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Offline Stasiakatt

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 08:53:46 AM »
I live near (about an hour) the MDRF and we love it. It's shady, it has stuff for kids, like the elephant to ride and a play area with a ship, stuff for adults, lots of shows, some street stuff, lots of vendors and lots of food choices--even my king of picky eaters can find something he will eat. It is hilly, with dirt paths, so if it rains the paths are muddy.
I haven't been to any of the NY faires or the PA faire (yet) so I can't comment on them.

Merlin,

This year MDRF started selling a "set number" of tickets for each day. All tickets are now available online, so you can purchase your ticket(s) for the days you want to go. Single day tickets went on sale 8/10 and we already got out tickets for 10/9 the only day that hubby can get off for the whole run of the faire. All passes are good ANY day of the faire, so if you get a 2 day pass then you can go any 2 days of the faire regardless of if they "sold out" of that day's tickets. BUT if you show up on any day without pre-purchased tickets there is a chance that the tickets for that day could be sold out and that you would not even be allowed to enter the parking lot.

This change in policy hasn't really been explained well, at least not where I can find. Certain peeps out there feel it is a new policy to be compliant with fire code, since there is only 1 marked entrance and exit for MDRF that "most" people will know in an emergency--the front gate.  Other peeps believe it's due to the complaints from residents around the faire about the traffic. I know that I have sat in traffic for a few hours just to get to the parking lot when we got a late start (darn kids).  There is a lot of complaining about the new ticket policy and I personally think that MDRF needs to do a little more to get the word out about the cap on attendance for all the 'danes out there who decide to go at the last minute--I know I would be pissed if I drove all the way to the faire only to be told that I can't get in. 

Offline BLAKDUKE

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2011, 03:04:16 PM »
I have been to 4 of the faires mentioned and if I had to pick only one I would wait for Sterling.  I was at Maryland when it was in Columbia, MD(translation many years ago).  On that same weekend I also did PARF and had a wild time.  My wife and I did Tuxedo the following year and although the faire is fairly commercial and anachronistic, still it was interesting.  However for a first timer I would reccomend Sterling unless you just cannot wait that long.  As for garb don't wait.  For first timers you can outfit yourselves at K-mart, Walmart, vintage clothing stores, and thrift shops unless you want to be upscale nobility(for that you might want to try a costume shop).  But for the first time a blousy shirt, a pair of queenly stretch tights, a rope belt, a pair of sandals, maybe a walking staff that you can make yourself from tree blowdown and your in like Flynn.

Have fun and let us all know how you make out

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Offline BLAKDUKE

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2011, 03:08:45 PM »
And based on that knowledge of a cap on attendees alone, I doubt that I would ever attempt to attend MDRF.  Almost like you said if I got there and was told I could not get in I am afraid the the air would be a well defined shade of blue..
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 03:10:00 PM by BLAKDUKE »
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Offline Serenity

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2011, 11:19:55 AM »
The attendance cap is something new for this year.  I guess they will see how well it works, or doesn't.  Just order your tickets online in advance and there won't be an issue.


NOTE: There is NO hat passing or busking at MDRF!!!!  All performers are paid by the King's Purse.  No unauthorized performances either.
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Offline RenStarr

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 12:15:16 PM »
Why not just try all three!!   :D

Different faires are like different people, each one has it's own personality.  Things you'll like about one faire may be different in regards to another faire.  I've found that it's not so much you'll like one more then another, it's more along the lines of you'll like each one for different reasons. 

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Offline Lady Renee Buchanan

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Re: First timers, where should we go?
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 05:48:06 PM »
I'm curious, Rogue... What's with this "capped" attendance? There's no mention on their website. How in the world could they turn someone away without warning?

This weekend at Bristol, the entire parking lot was full and the faire reached its capacity, so they didn't let people in after they reached that point.  Someone in the know told me it was 20,000 attendance where the cap was set, & they reached it on Sunday.
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