Ohio Renaissance Festival
Despite the car breaking down, freezing cold temperatures, and disappointing fish and chips, the renaissance festival turned out to be a day of memories. We dressed in layers and braved the cold to experience the festival with my sister, her husband, and two kids. The boys wore their knight tunics I made for them, and the older boy carried a matching sword and shield my brother-in-law made.
Housed in a castle-like structure in Harveysburg, Ohio, the renaissance circuit has something for everyone. From jousting to giant turkey legs to mazes to sword fights, there is enough to keep goers entertained for hours.
There were many people in character and costume. Our group was stopped by one such person in hopes of a dual with the older boy. After a perfectly posed picture, the two knights battled it out in the grass alongside the walkway. The best of the two knights won the dual, with the loser conceding his loss. It takes a very mature man to loose a sword battle to a six year old.
Our plan of attack for the day was to center our activities around the events and shows we wanted to see. In between jousting matches and variety comedy shows, we ate (some more satisfied than others), ventured through a maze, watched glass blowing, shopped, and explored the grounds. There was so much to see and do, we could have spent days there. However, the cold temperatures, tired kids, and hungry appetites required us to venture back to civilization.
Prior to this trip, I had a vague idea of what jousting consisted of, but no concrete knowledge. For me, learning the specifics of this sport was one of the more exciting endeavors of the day. There was a host for the match, who explained the rules, and two knights competing against each other. It was explained to the audience that each knight wore full armor, complete with a shoulder pad to protect them from their opponent’s lance. In medieval times, when one knight struck the other knight with their lance, he exerted 5,000 pounds of force, a combination of the weight of the armor and the speed of the horses when the knights collided.
Besides running towards each other with giant pointy sticks, there were other areas of competition. One such competition was performed by each knight individually. The knight would don their lance, and race towards a target attached to a swinging stick, with a sandbag hanging on the other side. The idea was to ride fast enough that when you struck the target and the rod swung the sandbag around, you would be far enough away that it would not hit you.
After this competition and a few other crowd-entertainers, the jousting began. The knights started on opposite ends of the arena, chose their lance, and waited for the signal. Once they received the go-ahead, they charged at full speed towards each other, hoping to strike their target. Points are awarded for hitting the opponent, splitting the lance, and knocking the opponent off his horse.
After the match ended, the arena was opened up for horseback rides. We had to choose between meeting the knight and riding the horse, and in the end the horse won out. While we awaited our turn and were entertained by a character greeting those in line. One very excited six-year-old got to ride on a horse for the first time. He was a little hesitant at first of getting on, but returned from the ride with a grin from ear to ear.
A great activity for the kids was a sword fight with "safe swords". Made of foam, these swords came in all colors, patterns, and sizes, and were on hand when a dual arose.
All in all, the experiences we had were worth facing the freezing temperatures and mediocre fish. It was a new experience for all of us, something we can all look back and say we shared our first Renaissance Festival with each other.