The Rennaisance Fair

Here’s this week’s column.

“Over here in Germany they take their festivals seriously.

We keep hearing tales about the summer German Renaissance festivals and how fun they are, so on Saturday we decided it sounded like the perfect super cheap outing.

We pulled the toy van into the village parking lot (aka big empty field) and climbed out. Two cars down the doors opened and out stepped Robin Hood and his merry girlfriend, complete with bows, arrows and boots that zipped. (I’m not judging, moccasins aren’t my thing either.)

The village was set up in a small field surrounded by shade trees. White tents lined the edges offering everything from animal hides to factory made toys from China. The store keepers had a few more teeth than might have been anticipated, but no reenactment is perfect.

The kids especially loved the “village mouse,” a supposed prince living under an evil spell who’s punishment is an eternity of entertaining the masses with a game of chase the cheese. For one euro you can play “guess the mouse house”. The board game was a round table with numerous row houses lining the entire edge. Players choose a house, put their money on the roof, and wait to see which house the mouse runs to. If he picks your house you win a piece of candy.

Most expensive salt water taffy I’ve everĀ  heard of (we didn’t win).

At one point we found ourselves in the company of the village lepers. I fished out a 2 Euro coin and gave it to June (3), thinking I was going to teach my children the fine art of being nice to the icky lepers (they were sporting some impressive costume make-up–at least I think it was make-up). She putĀ  in the fellow’s dish and he promptly gave her change for it. I tried to make him to keep the money, but he gave the kids candy instead.

Now my kids love lepers. Jesus has to be happy about that one.

Then there was the sword fighting. What do you get when you cross two middle aged men in full knight costume on a really hot afternoon in August? A really anticlimactic battle where two guys hit each other with “swords” for ten seconds intervals, interspersed with water breaks and village gossip sessions.

Then the real action started. They pulled out styraphome gray noodles for the kids to play “sword fight” with. Oh how Harrison wanted a noodle, but it’s always hard to figure out the rules when the peasant dude is screaming them at you in German. When he saw the signal to “grab a sword now” he rushed with the swarm of children and fought like the dickens to get his hands on one.

He ended up in the most intense tug of war battle I’ve ever seen–it lasted almost 30 seconds. The other kid was significantly larger and perhaps more determined (meaner) and the sword was finally wrenched it out of Harrison’s unwilling hands.

Talk about defeat. My son slumped his shoulders and huffed his way to the car. He walked away with a first hand account of what it feels like to be bested on the battle field.

For the record, I now know why the women always wanted their sons to pick the church: warriors are super moody.”