For the past few years, the San Jose Renaissance Faire has been bringing medieval times to the Bay Area, with activities, actors, and plenty to purchase. This year, it’s moved from its old location to Discovery Meadow, providing more space for the many attendees that came by that weekend and the festivities for them.
First and foremost, of course, we should touch on the activities the Renaissance Faire had to offer. To one side was a row of food booths, selling meats, mead, and (for those who want to beat the heat without historical accuracy) shaved ice, among other foods. Past that, the many booths and activities of the Ren Faire awaited.
For those looking to spend some money, there were plenty of vendors selling handmade period costumes or props, or hand-crafted carvings or figures. Some were even selling chain mail or swords, for those who wanted to slurge on real steel.
Other tents had games to play, using boards and rules based off those from Renaissance times. There was also, as usual, a few sets of giant jenga around for people to play, which sometimes resulted in towers reaching above the players’ heads (although I may be nursing a splinter from one of them).
And of course, no faire would be complete without sword fights. There were a few areas for lessons in swordplay, as well as one where faire-goers could fight each other with foam weapons. Really, when visiting a faire with friends, beating each other up with foam swords is a must-do.
However, if foam-based violence isn’t real enough for you, there was the occasional joust. Real swords, real armor, and real warhorses came to the field, as trained competitors charged at each other for the audience’s entertainment. The joust was a huge draw, bringing in large crowds each time to watch the action.
But there was more to see than just jousting. There were a few stages set up for various shows, from whip demonstrations to singing groups to storytellers. Throughout the day, people could have a seat and watch the shows, or watch any of the faire performers travel around in-character. The queen’s court was placed nicely in the shade, so it drew a nice crowd throughout the day (and a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”-esque performance of “Pyramus and Thisbe” they presented at one point made for great entertainment as well).
There were more than just performers in costume, of course. Attendees would come dressed in their best medieval garb, some of which took years of faire attendance to pull together, or countless hours of sewing to make. There were even some in full armor, wearing it proudly in the hot summer sun. (Of course, no faire would be complete without a time traveler or two.)
The new location was a great improvement for the faire, providing not only more room, but a better use of the space available. It felt not only larger, but more vast, allowing more room to wander and enjoy the experience. It was a great step up from the previous spot, and still has room to expand if needed.
At the end of each day, attendees left satisfied, and tired but happy. There was much to do, much to see, and fun to be had throughout the weekend, making the 5th Annual San Jose Renaissance Faire a good one.
All photos by Danny “Dviouz1″ DeLuna