The Arizona Renaissance Festival is one of my annual “must go” local events. I’ve been going to the Renaissance Festival since I was in high school and it was the first geeky event I ever attended, long before I started going to Phoenix Comicon. The Renaissance Festival is also accredited with sparking my interest in cosplay. I made my first costume, a purple cloak out of crushed velvet, for the Renaissance Festival nearly ten years ago. Years later I eventually went all out and made a full on Elizabethan gown which ended up being a hit at the festival. Bookmans is very happy to partner with them again this year.
While there are tons of things to look forward to at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, here are a few things I particularly love to experience every time I go:
The Arizona Renaissance Festival is most known for its smoked turkey legs and copious amounts of beer, however my particular favorites are the Steak on a Stick (a thick piece of tender steak on a stick), dessert crepes and funnel cakes, and the numerous variety of pastries at the Cottage Bakery which is conveniently located right at the entrance of the festival.
This year I stopped by the Cottage Bakery for a delicious sticky bun for breakfast, along with some coffee from the Cappuccino Inn (always nice to have on a cool, cloudy and potentially rainy day). Later in the afternoon, I munched on some fish and chips from the Queen’s Kitchen. I also make it a point every year to chase down the pickle guy who always has a bucket of crunchy, ice cold pickles which are especially refreshing after a beer, although this year it was a pickle lady.
The beer and mead.
As much as I love beer, and they have some good ones at the Renaissance Festival including Guinness (I love my dark beers!), my drink of choice this year was the mead. For those unfamiliar with it, mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and it is very sweet like honey but packs a punch. This year they had a raspberry-flavored mead that was quite tasty, but the original honey mead will always be my favorite. I drank two cups of mead this year which was enough to keep me delightfully happy throughout the day.
The handmade crafts.
Every year the artisans show up in full force at the Arizona Renaissance Festival.This year there were several new vendors I had never seen there before, while many of the regular favorites, like Ruth Thompson (a wonderful fantasy artist) were still a welcome sight in their usual spots.
There is never a year when I leave the Renaissance Festival without some new handcrafted item. Most years I make it a point to hit up the handmade soap shops, like Badger Creek Soaps, grab some scented oils from the Perfumed Dragon, and collect some incense from the Global Scent Company. This year I splurged and bought myself a golden wire-wrapped crown from Medieval Metal to go with the golden wire-wrapped elf ears I had bought from them the year before. My new crown compliments my elven princess costume quite nicely.
At the Renaissance Festival there are entertainers performing every hour on several stages through the park. One of the must see shows I recommend is Adam Crack, the fire whip master. Adam Crack is a Renaissance Festival regular and holds numerous world records for his whip cracking. His show is as hilarious as it is dangerous (for him at least). I also recommend the Birds of Prey show where you’ll get to see a variety of exotic birds of prey including owls, hawks, and even vultures display their prowess and learn a bit about these majestic creatures and the conservation efforts to keep them safe. The Tortuga Twins, Dead Bob, and Don Juan and Miguel are also staple shows at the Renaissance Festival, full of fun and crude humor (although some shows may not be appropriate for the young’uns). And of course, there is the Jousting Tournament which is a must see if it’s your first time at the Renaissance Festival.
Whatever your interest is, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. If you’re looking for a fun family outing with plenty of entertainment, great food and drink, and tons of crafts and gifts to come away with, Arizona Renaissance Festival is your place to go! The festival runs every weekend (Sat/Sun), 10 am – 6 pm, through April 2 so you still have plenty of time to go!
By C’loni Bailey (Asst. Manager at Bookmans Mesa)
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