A medieval village remains preserved against time in the middle of Sterling Forest, New York. Lords and ladies stroll down Penny Lane and attend the King's Joust. Wenches hawk the day's offerings of roasted turkey legs and sweet mead. Men push barrels of sour pickles past the stockyard. Meanwhile, the Shakespearean Players take to the stage, scrolls of Romeo and Juliet in hand. At the Renaissance Faire 2011, chivalry is still alive.
On the faire grounds, immerse yourself in the Elizabethan Era. The expansive grounds are organized into areas for shopping, food, and expositions. Come early and secure good seats for the premiere performances: the King's Joust and Sheriff's Chess Match.
During the joust, the audience waves colored flags to signify support for their knights. Jesters jump, heckle, and rally the crowd in support of Sir Wallace or Sir John or Lord Wallington. Kids love this event. Long lances splinter to pieces. Unhorsed knights slash at each other. Meanwhile, the ladies of the court fan themselves against the heat, whispering the royal gossip of the day. Later in the afternoon, watch the Sheriff of Nottingham take the giant chessboard with live prisoners. It's not just checkmate. It's a duel to the death. While Little John battles to hold the middle-board, Maid Marion fights her way up the column.
Other great shows include: Birds of Prey, Wolgemut Drummers with Belly Dancers, knife-throwing, and the Heinen Family Coin Minters with a 16th Century machine called a Leonardo DaVinci Drop Hammer Forge.
At lunch, head to the main square for smoked turkey legs, roasted boar platters, chocolates, funnel cakes, and other faire grub. Vegetarians needn't worry. Renfair menus include falafel, eggplant sandwiches, hummus, and baba ganoush. During the afternoon heat, visit a tavern for frothy beer or chilled wine. If you've never had honey wine called mead, try a glass. Sweet and refreshing, mead is a great way to slake the renaissance thirst. First-time mead drinkers should be wary. If the barmaids find out that its your first time, they may ring a bell, shout out "mead virgin", and make you drink the whole glass without using your hands. It's great fun to watch, but a challenge to do.
Tickets are available at the gates or online. Buy in advance and receive a discount on admission. Since shade is limited, don't forget to bring water and sunblock.
New Artisans and Special Performances Adding to the long list of craftsmen, this summer's faire will feature perfumers, Satori maskers, stained-glass makers as well as camel and wagon rides. On August 21 and 22, the pub band called Three-Pints Shy will entertain the main square with boisterous Celtic music over dark pints of beer. On September 4 and 5, dress to impress and enter to win the Fantasy Costume Contest.
For the Kids A packed itinerary is in place for the 2011 season. Children are welcome to dress in period-garb, poke fun at the king's jester, and practice their best cockney accent. During the day, flock to the Birds of Prey show and sit a spell for storytelling, puppetry, and even an audience with Robin Hood himself. In the food court, children's menus serve up chicken fingers, French fries, and pizza good enough for any finicky lordling.