On Saturday the 9th Dave, Jocelyn, Rachel, Hannah, Kelly, my mother and brother and I went to the Sterling Renaissance Festival.
I'm not certain when my family started going to the fair, but Hannah and I were both quite small, so it's probably been about 18 years.
We all met at my mother's house, some of us having to wait longer than others for our departure. As you can see, Rachel, Kelly and Jocelyn are very social beings.
Sterling, NY is about an hour away from Syracuse, but totally worth the trip. As we were going the first weekend of the festival (it is every weekend from July 9th to August 21st), and it was the 35th Anniversary Family Weekend, ticket were a lot cheaper than normal. It is $25 for adults, $15 for children. This gets you into the fair for the entire day - 10 am to 7 pm - and gets you all of the entertainment. Food, games, clothes and gifts cost extra.
We arrived at around 1:30 in the afternoon, and the first thing we all did was eat. Dave and Hannah split a pork sandwich, then he shared a fish and chips plate with me. The fruit smoothies are excellent - peach being my favorite - as are the fried cheese curds. Jocelyn got a turkey leg - a drumstick the size of your forearm - from the pretty wenches who implore passers-by to "taste our succulent thighs!" Those girls were always my father's favorite part of the fair. Later on we also had teriyaki beef jerky - $3 for a piece the size of printer paper - an apple dumpling with ice cream, peasant bread, an enormous chocolate and peanut butter cookie and a double espresso for Dave. Then we had dinner. Don't judge.
While we ate we were approached by a wandering poet by the name of Arthur Greenleaf Holmes. He claimed to be a poet of the most corrosive nature and asked if we would like to hear something wildly inappropriate. Naturally, we did, so he told us to come to his show. We begged for a poem right then, and he finally assented, asking what, on a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, what we wanted. We asked for a seventeen. After he stopped laughing he recited the first part of A Hearthside Conversation, a poem so inappropriate I will not post the link here. If you find it yourself just remember, as Holmes would say, "You bastards asked for it." We promised to go to his show later in the day, as we couldn't think of anything more delightful than filthy poetry read in a fake British accent.
Having been fed, we had just enough time to make it to the Field of Honor for the first joust of the day. They take place at 2 and 5:30 pm, and are the biggest events at the fair. I would guess that there were around 800 spectators for the joust, and each side of the field gets to root for one of the knights. Our knight, Jacob, was the prettier of the two (both fairly pretty) but not the better horseman. I'm not sure if everything is perfectly rehearsed or if it is different every time, but at least this time, we lost.
Immediately after the joust we ran into a squire who had lost his words. He wished to woo a lady of the sea, a pirate lass, if you will, but had no idea how to do it. We, good feminists that we are, decided that crying "Wench!" and taking her roughly was the best course of action. A passing juggler added that, during the taking - which consisted of a dip - he should add hip movement.
So, Wench!, hip, dip, hip. More amusing than effective, but he went on his merry way to woo Consequence the pirate.
Hannah decided that the passing juggler was adorable, so after informing the squire how to woo his fair damsel, we went to see the London Broil show. I was too far back in the audience to hear or see very well, so I left after a few minutes, but Hannah informs me that they were quite spectacular. She wanted a photograph with the one she fancied because... well, for obvious reasons.
While she was getting her giggle on, Kelly and I got our awesome on and did some archery. I used to be very good, and I do miss it. Being in the Hunger Games wouldn't be all bad, I suppose. Archery is both fun and cheap at the fair - $1 to shoot 4 arrows, $2 for 10, and $5 to enter the archery contest, held at 4pm. Kelly and I split 10 arrows and turned a painted dragon into a pincushion.
At 12, 2, 3:30 and 5 pm there are plays at the Ye Mudd Pits, at the very end of the fair grounds. We saw the story of Jerkulese, son of Zeus, and his triumph over the Evil... Doctor Evil... doctor... Dr. E. had taken control of Zeus' latrine in an attempt to take over the world. Things like that work when you live in mud. During the course of the play there was much crude innuendo, downright sillyness, and lots of mud. Seriously lots. If you are wearing good clothes and don't want any mud on them, do not sit in the front half of the audience. We was one kid in the front row take a clod to the forehead, and I thought Dave was going to have an asthma attack, he was laughing so hard.
We raced over to the Grotto Stage after that to see Arthur Greenleaf Holmes at 4:30. We had already missed his 12:30 and 2:30 shows, and were determined to see the last one. I honestly don't remember the last time I have laughed that hard - the poems were crude, but, at least to me, inoffensive. I recorded three, the cleanest of which is below.
Mother, Will My Stones Drop?
Kelly, Jocelyn, Rachel and I sat in the front row and, seeing as he had talked with us earlier, he dedicated one poem to Jocelyn (I Bought A Cheese, And Thought of You) and allowed me to participate in another (An Ode to an Extremely Provocative Knothole, photo below).
We talked with him again after the show and he said we were genuinely the highlight of his day, signed the copy of his CD we bought, took a picture with us and asked that we mention the fact that we liked his show, as this was the first time he had his own stage. So, Sterling Renaissance Festival, bring this man back every year, as he is hands down the best adult entertainment at the fair.
There is a Wench and Bloke auction at 5:30 pm at the Market Cross and Kelly, good sport that she is, participated. You can pick up your winnings outside the gate but don't forget to bring your payments, because they don't take well to welchers. I saw the squire who we taught to woo during the auction, and we went over to speak to him once Kelly had been sold for 1,000 crates of beer and a blindfold.
The young squire had done well for himself, having had his way with a young lady who had stolen the diamond from his cane. We convinced Kelly to steal the diamond from him, and they wooed each other nicely.
The last event of the day is the Final Pub Sing at the Festival Stage. We made our way over there at about 6:45 and said goodbye to everyone we met during the day, sang a few songs, got some good pictures and had one final, hysterical laugh.I assume most of you are aware of the phrase "photo bomb". It is the act of intentionally sabotaging someone else's photograph, usually with the hope that no one notices until later. Until that afternoon, I had been unaware that there are also video bombers. Then we met their master.
It was an amazing conclusion to an amazing day, and I absolutely recommend this place to everyone. You don't even have to be a total nerd to enjoy it - if you like food, laughter and looking at weird people, it is absolutely worth your money.