Tuesday, October 04, 2005
The Renn Festival in Maryland this year
The Reader's Digest version of this past Sunday at the Maryland Renaissance Festival: same vendors, great costumes, food quality down, mead quality worse than down, beer quality way up, good shows, a bit dusty.
Before anyone asks, NO I did not go in costume. Not like my costume is a big deal. It's not even one of those all out RPG costumes. It's a cheesey thing I got at Target during an after Halloween sale for a percentage off. Geo told me we were to go back home to PA straight after the Faire and, out of the group, I would be the only one in costume. He didn't care if I was in costume and he didn't exactly encourage it. So I went dressed like a normal schlepp.
And lo and be-friggin-hold, we DIDN'T go home after the faire. We went back to our friends' home. I was so mad. His comment was "Oh, so now you decide to listen to me."
And there were so many people there in costume. Some a bit more frightening than others. The one to the left was a shade more scary. Geo took the picture. He tried to get the guys face but was unsuccessful.
Geo and his buddy, V, kept doing the "Rate-A-Rack" or "Real or Fake" thing with all the women. A few of the women there were in serious need of major support. The boobs on one woman, lord as my witness, were down to her navel. All I could picture was her in later years with her nipples next to her knee caps. Ouch!
The food was a major disappointment. The pizzas looked like the frozen rectangle slices you can get at the supermarket (e.g., Ellio's). The beef and beans in a bread bowl? That was a huge joke. The huge colorful drawing gave the illusion that it was this chili-like concoction in a big ole thing of button bread. Then there is the reality. It was a six inch Amoroso-like hoagie roll with the filling partly removed and replaced with the nastiest blandest beef and bean slop in a lame red sauce. Steak on a Stick? Well, it was meat and it was definitely on a stick. Nothing anywhere said it was beef. I still don't know what kind of meat I ate. The hot dogs were okay. The curly fries were edible yet slightly undercooked. Thank goodness there were italian icees in half an orange (that kept the niece happy). And there were also whole garlic deli pickles. That kept the baby happy (the little bugger ate 4/5 of one by herself). Since we didn't eat all that was available, I can't say all the food was bad; however, what we did eat was not what you would expect from such a large and popular event. General concensus was the food was a letdown from previous years.
The best (or should I say most ridiculous) price for foood: a small cone (a wee bit larger than the cones you have water dospensed into at a cooler) of cinnamon roasted almonds - five dollars. And it wasn't even filled! Eeeee-ya.
The one thing I always look forward to is the mead. One glass of their mead can knock you on your backside. It was locally brewed and it packed a kick. Or, at least, it used to. Not this year. Nope, this year the mead came in a moonshine bottle and was poured into itty bitty 4 ounce plastic drink cups (but they charged the same as the bigger cups from years prior). I felt more kick from rubbing alcohol fumes. Total downer.
The beer was much better this year so that made up for the crappy food and below par mead. A local brewery, Fordham Brewing Company, was the featured brewer for 2005. Their line-up was Fordham Lager, Copperhead Ale, Oyster Stout, Fordham Light, Oktoberfest, and Black and Tan. The last two are seasonal (like you couldn't guess with a name like Oktoberfest). The brew we (Geo, V, and I) found to be the best was the Oktoberfest. It was reddish brown (almost like Killian's) and had a smooth taste with no bitter afterbite. Geo and I love heavier brew - mostly lagers, ales, and stouts. Pilsners are fine but have to be super cold. They had many other brands to choose from at various locations throughout the festival (i.e., Killian's, Whitbread, a variety of Sam Adams, Coors Light, Rolling Rock, Molson, Corona, Twisted Tes, Hard Core Cider - just to name a few). And yes, I do like my beer. I don't drink to get hammered. I enjoy the taste and savor each sip. That is why the Oktoberfest definitely won my approval.
This section of the country has seen little no no rain in over a month. Take one part no rain, mix in a mostly dirt path event plus a few thousand people with their vehicles, and you get one nasty dusty cough producing environment. Kids were kicking at the ground making huge dust clouds. Fun for a kid - bad for everyone else. All the vehicles in the monster of a parking area were covered in a fine layer of dirt. I was literally blowing black stuff out evertime I used a tissue. I thought the whole family was nebulizer bound once we got home. Though that didn't occur, we are all still wheezing. Dry conditions did not produce the best of settings this year.
As much as I love to go to the MD Renaissance Festival, I think we are about done with it. I used to go to the one in Pennsylvania a lot. Heck, I started going there in the late 80's back when it was a "spit on the map" festival. I just went there one too many times. I think next year we'll do the Highland Games in MD or in Bethlem PA (this time we'll see if we can meet up, CP). maybe Geo and I can look into finding a new Faire to invade. I hear there is one in New York that's rather large. We have a whole year to decide. But the Festival itself will no longer be on the future agenda.
So there you have it. The MD Renn Festival is not bad if it's your first time. The price to get in is relatively cheap and there is a ton to keep you busy all day. Bring extra cash for the vendors because there are planty of them. If you drink wine, it's there (I just didn't bother). For the beer drinker, there are some good brews available. If you're going for the food, well ... good luck.