The Super Accurate Renaissance Faire Guide

With everything going on the world today such as the public health crisis, the murder hornets and meth gators, and probably some ninjas (those sneaky bastards), these are things that have led to many of our favorite events and pastimes being canceled.  Because of this I’ve recently realized that one of my favorite events has also fallen to the demise of cancelations around the country this year.  I’m speaking of course of one of America’s greatest cultural treasures:  The Renaissance Faire.  Huzzah!  

Yes!  The Renaissance Faire!  A magical place where your entire family can experience what fun it was to live in Europe five hundred years ago.  Minus the feudal oppression.  Or the Black Plague.  Or the witch burnings.  But there might still be the Spanish Inquisition.  Because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.  Now that I mention it, one may think Renaissance Europe was not exactly a pleasant place.  However, Justin Beiber did not exist anywhere in any form back then.  So there’s that.  Glass half full.

But yes.  Like many other things in 2020 all the local renaissance faires have been canceled.  If you didn’t know this, I’m sorry to be the bearer of this bad news.  I understand if not being able to go to the Renaissance Faire makes you so distraught that you just want to plunge your face into a bowl of tequila-soaked nachos.  We’ve all been there at some point in our lives.  I digress.  

The Renaissance Faire is an entertaining place where you can watch two armored people attempt to poke each other with long, hard wooden shafts (a jousting match).  And you can do this while gnawing on a turkey leg large enough to end world hunger and/or bludgeon one of those people that knowingly blocks a grocery store aisle with their cart.  And then wash that turkey leg down with a tankard of beer that costs a mere $2,487.  The Renaissance Faire is a place where you can take up swordplay, or go to the archery range and shoot things with a longbow, and then get accosted by jesters and Star Trek cosplayers all while carrying your own medieval weaponry. See, it’s fun for the kids too!  

In addition to this the Renaissance Faire encourages you to dress the part, to wear that shirt with poofy sleeves that can double as a frigate sail, knee-high leather boots, and a codpiece.  If you don’t know what a codpiece is, it’s something renaissance men wore over their pantaloons to accentuate their…ahem…nether region.  It wasn’t enough for the males of the time to just stuff their trousers with a hunk of spotted dick.  They wanted to show a little more package in the hopes they could make the ladies of the court swoon at their overt displays of pelvic thrusting prowess.  Admittedly, not much has changed in men today.

What happens when the Renaissance Faire reopens, when we’re able return to this bastion of nerdy glory?  Although, with all things in life there are good things and bad things.  The Renaissance Faire is no different.  How would you or I know which one is bad and which is good?  Have no fear!  Due to this burning question on the minds of every American, I’ve put together some helpful tips on how to know if you’re at a good faire or a bad faire.  A Renaissance Faire guide, if you will.

Good Renaissance Faire–You are welcomed at the entrace gates by rum guzzling pirates, a friendly dragon, and a fortune teller handing out free lottery tickets.

Bad Renaissance Faire–The cast of Jersey Shore is there to welcome you at the entrance gates, and the “fortune teller” is actually just a lost hobo.

Good Renaissance Faire–The wandering minstrel will play Megadeth and Slayer upon request.

Bad Renaissance Faire–The wandering minstrel only knows how to play Nickelback songs.

Good Renaissance Faire–There is a full-sized catapult that you can shoot, allowing you to launch flaming Volkswagen Beetles at the DMV.

Bad Renaissance Faire–Instead of a catapult and all the fun that that entails, they give you a broken sling shot and half a bag of Peanut M&Ms.

Good Renaissance Faire–Ye Olde Foode Courte has food from all over Ye Knowne Worlde, including a pyramid of beer kegs, taco stands, buckets of turkey legs, and a Cold Stone.  Because ice cream.

Bad Renaissance Faire–The food court here only has a TGI Friday’s. 

Good Renaissance Faire–The area around the privies smells like fresh-baked cookies.

Bad Renaissance Faire–Before entering the privies, you’re given a torch and a chainsaw and told, “God hath forsaken this place.”

Good Renaissance Faire–After leaving you feel like you’ve experienced one of life’s epic adventures, thereby becoming more inspired to accomplish your goals, even if those goals are as lofty as hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, visiting every Waffle House in the USA, or dressing in a gorilla costume while climbing the Empire State Building. No judgement.

Bad Renaissance Faire–After leaving you need to douse yourself in turpentine, take a three-day shower, and get a tetanus shot, which causes you to study quantum physics with the sole aim of building the world’s first working time machine so that you can go back and prevent yourself from ever visiting the Renaissance Faire in the first place.

I have no doubt that there are many more pointers and tips one could give for good faires and bad faires.  I just hope that my little guide here will give you, my dearest reader, a little insight for the next time you’re able to visit the Renaissance Faire.  And when that day comes, just remember to dress the part, wear a pirate hat, drink a cold, frothy mug of beer, and have fun.

And don’t forget your codpiece.

The Ghosts of Gettysburg

I may have seen a ghost in Gettysburg.  You know Gettysburg? It’s the town in Pennsylvania that hosted the famous battle during the American Civil War.  In July 1863, two epic armies from the North and South came together in this small, Pennsylvania town to slug it out like two nuclear apocalypse survivors fighting over a box of Twinkies.  I love history. I’m a big Civil War buff, and had wanted to visit Gettysburg for many years. Therefore, almost on a whim, I bought a red-eye flight to Washington DC, rented a car, and drove to Pennsylvania.  

When I finally reached the town, it was already late afternoon.  So my tour of the battlefield and visit to the Gettysburg National Military Park would have to wait until the next day.  I figured that evening would be perfect for a ghost tour! Oh…and food. And beer. One cannot forget the important things in life!

In Gettysburg there are several groups offering ghost tours, paranormal treks, and various history walks.  Since so many people died in the battle, there are a plethora of stories about restless spirits, phantom entities, and zombie Elvis sightings.  There’s apparently so many ghosts in Gettysburg, Sam and Dean Winchester would need three dump trucks full of salt to put them to rest. I wasn’t concerned about any of that, I just thought a historical ghost tour would be fun.

One of the cool things about the town of Gettysburg is many of the buildings and houses from the 1860s are still in use today.  The ghost tour I signed up for had all the guests meet our guide behind one of these older historic buildings, which also happened to be a bar.  Included with my ticket for the tour was a free beer from said bar. I also need to point out that behind this bar was a cannon. You read that right.  A frickin’ cannon from 1861 was just sitting there! How awesome is that?

There I was standing next to a Civil War era cannon, holding a beer while in Gettysburg, and about to embark on a historical ghost tour!  I could barely contain my excitement, and thus, I nearly needed to change my pants. I also may have audibly cackled in glee like a Shakespearean witch, hunched over a cauldron, about to engage in magical shenanigans. 

The tour itself was both educational and entertaining. The guide took us to various spots around the town, at night of course, and regaled us with historically accurate stories from the battle as well as tales of ghost sightings, supposedly haunted buildings, and strange creepers.  When I say strange creepers, interpret that however you like. It could be a creepy crawly, a poltergeist, or a guy in a trench coat flashing people who are exiting a Taco Bell drive-thru. Let your imaginations run wild.

During the ghost tour one particular building stood out to me.  The guide explained that not only was it an original building, but that it had been part of the battle.  She then pointed out the bullet holes in the brick wall, which were leftover from the battle. If that wasn’t cool enough the tour guide told us the building was also haunted.  Apparently, Confederate soldiers used the top room of the building to fire on Union troops, who of course shot back. Eventually Union troops stormed the building and the Confederates inside were killed.  She told us that people report seeing eerie figures in the top window, and the ghosts of Confederate and Union soldiers inside.

And I was standing at the base of this building with its bullet-ridden scars from the Battle of Gettysburg.  I love history!

The building from the battle with bullet holes still in the wall.

After the tour I returned to that building.  I wanted to get a better look at it, and maybe see if I could find any more evidence of the battle.  And maybe spy an apparition? The side of the building with the bullet holes is well-lit. So I went around the opposite side, which was actually rather dark.  This took me on a side street of Gettysburg, and for some reason, I had the feeling that I needed to get my phone out.

I took my phone out, opened the video camera app, and started recording.  Let the video speak for itself. What can I say? I captured something in that eight second clip.

I’m not sure what kind of ghost that was, but it looked strangely familiar.  If you’re still reading this, then please enjoy a few of the photos I took of the Gettysburg battlefield the following day. 🙂 

All kidding aside, the town of Gettysburg was great.  I would return there in a heartbeat and tour the battlefield again.  The real ghosts of Gettysburg are the thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers that died there, fighting in a war that ripped the nation in two.  May their spirits rest in peace forever.

The site of where the 20th Maine fought on Little Round Top.
Here I am, standing atop the Little Round Top and Devil’s Den is behind me.