Way out in the desert, far outside the Phoenix metropolitan area, the Renaissance Festival has been held every February and March since 1989 (the year Sarah was born). It began small, but is now comprised of an entire fenced city featuring medieval clothing, music, plays, shows, games, rides, foods, services, souvenirs, and even an entire jousting field.
I love the romance of that era and always wanted to go to the festival. Finally, in 2001, Mark and I packed up the kids and drove down to the Valley to spend a day at the Renaissance Festival. The photo above was taken on the road to Mesa the day before we attended the festival.
17 Feb 2001 - Mark with the kids as we enter the festival grounds.
We spent an evening visiting with family in Mesa, then the next morning drove back toward home since the festival grounds are along the highway we take back to our mountain.
We had a great time and spent the entire day exploring the festival. We were exhausted by the time we started the almost-3-hour drive back home.
Mary with the kids in front of a fountain.
You may notice in these first couple of pictures that Dylan is wearing a harness and a leash. We actually bought them when Jacob was a toddler. Back then, Jacob thought it was funny to hide from us, plus he thought every stranger he met was a new best friend, so he gave us many scares before we got the leash. Then Dylan as a toddler was simply impulsive and often suddenly disappeared, sometimes even scaring himself when he couldn't find us afterward, but he hated the restriction of always having his hand held. We only used the harness for places like Disneyland, where they could be easily lost in a crowd, but the leash was a blessing. The boys usually didn't mind it, either, because it gave them freedom to stray a few feet from Mom and Dad.
Jacob, Dylan, and Sarah play in a medieval-style playground.
Why am I dusting off all these old Renaissance Festival memories? Because, about 6 weeks ago, the kids and I decided it would be fun to go to the festival again this year! It's been 9 years since our last experience and it has grown a lot more in that time. Sarah's friend, Emmi, has never been there at all, so she's very excited to go along with us. The kids have been saving up their money for this trip for weeks.
Sarah and Jacob enjoy a camel ride at the Festival. At least, I think they're enjoying it!We plan to go next Saturday, to kick off our week-long Spring Break. We've been praying for warm, dry weather (when it rains, the festival becomes a mass of mud), and our prayers have been answered! The forecast, after today's storm passes, is a spring-like week, warm and dry. Right now they're saying it will be about 57 degrees here at home next Saturday, which means it should be in the high 70's in the Valley. I'll be keeping my eye on that forecast all week!
Jacob (age 9) and Sarah (age 11) on their camel steed.
Dylan gets to ride a llama.
Dylan (age 3) and his smaller steed, the llama. He seems more relaxed than his siblings!
Before the joust begins. Notice the King above, in the covered stand at right.
The kids really enjoyed the jousting match, especially Jacob. Our portion of the arena was instructed to cheer for Sir Eric, the villain on the horse facing us (purple diamonds on white). Jacob was quite taken with Sir Eric, and we stayed after the joust so Jacob could meet him and his horse. It was serious hero-worship!
Jacob and Sarah as Robin Hood and Maid Marion.
Before we left, we had to have some fun with these photo opportunities! Whoever took the shot below managed to cut out their dad's head in the Robin Hood wanted poster.
Mom as Maid Marion.
Queen Sarah and King Jacob. Jacob could barely reach the head slot back then!
Queen Mary and King Mark. Did you ever see a medieval king in sunglasses and a baseball cap?
That was our first and only visit to the Renaissance Festival as a family. The only one of us who ever went back was Sarah, the following year. Traditionally, the 6th graders took a field trip to the Renaissance Festival every year, and Sarah went with her 6th grade class in 2002.
Sarah (age 12, at right) with her best friends Kristen and Brandy and a festival actress.
Unfortunately, Jacob missed out on his 6th grade trip because he didn't keep his end of a bargain with his teacher regarding his grades. As it turned out, that was a rainy, muddy trip and his teacher said he was lucky to have missed the mess. Dylan is in 6th grade now, but with last year's budget cuts the field trips were the first thing to go.
Kristen, Brandy, and Sarah with a festival actor. Very cute!
Sarah, Dylan, Emmi, and I had a great time looking through these old pictures and getting excited for next weekend's outing. Stay posted for updated photos of the new and improved Renaissance Festival!