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Jessica is the NH.com Editor and Producer. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Chester College of NE, and a M.Ed. specializing in Adult Education from Plymouth State University. She is happily married and a proud mama of two perfect little boys and is motivated to alert New Hampshirites to the hottest goings-on in the state. Her interests include cracking the spine of a good book, writing, painting and cuddling with her babies on the sofa while some terrible reality TV hums in the background.
Time For [Very] Old-Fashion Family & Community Merriment
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Huzzah! The wonderful sun cast fabulous weather on the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire and Spring Celebration opening day!
The NHRF is open two weekends each year. Opening weekend was Saturday and Sunday, May 12-13, with a second coming up on Saturday-Sunday, May 19-20. The Faire is open from 10am-5pm both days. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for kids ages 5-12, and FREE for kids 4 and under. Admission is cash only and there is an ATM on site for convenience.
Opening day could not have asked for better skies. With weather in the 70s all day, and minimal clouds, the gates open and the merriment commences.
Colorful tents and banners paint the lush green scenery. Along with my husband and two young boys, I walk first to the maypole standing tall in the open field. Long colored ribbons sway in the breeze. My oldest son is fascinated by the ribbons and his smile glows as bright as the sun.
We move about to the vendor tents and stop by a table adorned with candles and oils. I talk with Angela, of The Poor Pirate about her company. "We're a bit of a jack-of-all-trades type business. I started out as a seamstress making garb for myself. Then I was making garb for other people. Then I was making accessories, props, and jewelry." The Poor Pirate also offers an array of organic, handmade candles and herbal bath products like soaps, oils, and scrubs. The business is co-owned by Angela's fiancé David; "my fiancé and I have a mutual passion for live action role playing, so we took up leather working and inventive ways to create other cool looking types of armor. I also love to take pictures, and he loves to paint, and I've started to branch out with screen printing my own t-shirts. We market ourselves as a custom order company, meaning we'll make anything you ask us to. We've got a lot of projects on our Etsy page, which can be accessed through our website, that cater to anyone, not just renn Faire people, and we're on Facebook, too! "
There are many costume vendors operating at the Faire, so if you don't have costumes at home, you can adorn the Renaissance period garb once you get to the Faire. Kristina "Pyrate" at Silver Thistle, Frazzled Knot has a degree in jewelry making, but notes "I also love sewing!" In addition to lovely necklaces and earrings at her booth, she has clothing racks hung with both fantasy and researched costume styles for men and women.
Allison at Aetas Designs beckons us in to try on her wares. She is formally educated with a degree in theatre, to which she notes her coursework in costume design, and research in authentic period clothing. Allison carries a wide size range at the Faire, and also offers special order custom work, and corsets tailored to fit.
We pause by Tsuri's Potions, Lotions, and Trinkets booth and drool over the organic soaps that look like fudge, mocha-fudge specifically, and glitter bars that smell sweetly of watermelon and strawberry. Nearby, we watch some of the belly dancer show. My son seems to enjoy the rhythmic music and bops about in the stroller. Then, hungry from looking at tasty-looking soap, we make our way toward the food vendor area and enjoy the mouth-watering aroma. For those apprehensive Faire-goers or maybe-goers, who fear you may be forced to eat something strange, like roast mutton, with your bare fingers and ne'er a napkin in sight, fear not! The NHRF has many tasty food options including the standby hamburgers and hot dogs. There are utensils available for food and treats including delicious homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt from White Mountain Creamery (I got the luscious, 95% fat free Mint Patty fro-yo!) and there are plenty of foods not-requiring utensils, like waffles ... on a stick! Want Waffles of Dover, NH offers sensational waffles on a stick called Waffle Lolly with fun toppings including chocolate, maple syrup, and whipped cream. The fluffy Belgium waffles are a fun, tasty snack for any Faire-goer!
We set up a blanket in the shade by some picnic tables. There are plenty of seats available; we just want to sit in the grass in this wonderful picnic-weather! We chat with other Faire-goers and friendly staff members who walk by as we eat our lunch! My husband buys a rose from a lovely wandering vendor. She sings a short love-song as she curtsies and hands it to me!
After lunch we head toward the live steel fighting demonstration. The Neville Companye creates a period environment by researching and making clothing, arms and armour of that period as well as other crafts, skills and common day-to-day activities of the 15th century. As the knights set up, their pages help them dawn their armor. An announcer for the group informs the crowd that the suits of armor typically worn by knights in battle were upwards of 80 pounds! "Do you feel that lovely breeze?" the announcer asks the crowd. "With their helmets shut and their bodies covered in armor, they [the knights] don't!" Heat exhaustion is a real concern for the demonstrators, and help is standing close by.
The demonstrations are in relatively quick-burst sets of three. While the movements are fast, they are nonetheless impressive. The audience jumps as the knights' swords meet, and their metal bodies mash and clash in battle! The crowd is encouraged to cheer for a favorite knight to win and applause measures the victor at the end. After the battle, a helmet is passed around for donations to benefit DEW Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary, a non-profit animal protection and welfare organization. This is just one of the great charity opportunities at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire!
This year marks the 8th season for the NHRF; 2012 is special however, because the Faire is now under new ownership. Founded in 2005 by Shannon McCracken-Barber of GypsyRoses.org, the Faire is a family-friendly event which dutifully gives back to the New Hampshire community. Each year a main charity is selected to benefit from Faire proceeds; this year's main charity is The NH Food Bank. A secondary charity also receives donation collected through the Faire's Wench & Lad Auction; 2012 auction proceeds benefit First Star Tonight.
The New Hampshire Renaissance Faire is a wonderful and affordable opportunity to spend an out-of-the-ordinary day with family and friends. You don't need to wear a costume or brush up on your Shakespeare to have a good time, but hey, why not? Angela from The Poor Pirate observes, "when I was a kid, the renaissance Faire was this weird thing outside of mainstream culture, but it's become much more common place over the years. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you've never been to a renaissance Faire, they aren't just weird activities for weird kids anymore! It's an incredible day out, especially for a whole family, most especially your first time, and something everyone should try at least once. This Faire was my mother's very first time ever, and she said she had a great time!"
The NH Food Bank is a program of NH Catholic Charities and the only food bank in the Granite State which hosts a number of operational and educational programs in an ongoing battle against hunger in New Hampshire.
First Star Tonight is a Plymouth based organization which serves chronically and terminally ill children and young adults through wish granting, prescription assistance, rehabilitation, and other support.
NH State Information