NJ RENAISSANCE FAIRE 2015
KATE FOIL 01-JUNE-2015 Â Most days, when I attend an event, I have a game plan. I bring friends â€“ both for fun and for security. Traveling alone as a womanÂ and one with an anxiety disorder usually isnâ€™t the best idea for me. I know where Iâ€™m going, I have money on me, I have planned out my outfitâ€¦ Ok I picked an outfit 24 hours in advance. Close enough.
However, this past Saturday I found myself at the New Jersey Ren Faire without a single plan beyond â€œI need to unwind.â€ Iâ€™m not sure if I ever qualified for the terms rennie or playtron. At most, I worked VaRF for one season selling jewelry and attended the NC faire once or twice a season. Most of my garb has been given or packed away.
But after bad news from the vet, and having to skip Awesome Con, I was in need of something cheerful. Which is why I, spur of moment, mapquested the fairegrounds, threw on a black petticoat, my chemise and a black and red waist trainer and called myself a pirate wench. Good enough right? Letâ€™s just ignore my purse, which is actually a messenger bag with the Inquisition symbol from Dragon Age 3.
It was $22 (the nice fairy at the gate counted my lame attempt at garb and I got two dollars off) for the day. I was thankful they took cards at the gate. I hadnâ€™t even stopped by an ATM so I had very small amount of cash on me â€“ letâ€™s just be honest here, I was stressed past thinking rationally.
At first I was slightly confused. The NJ fairgrounds includes minigolf, but I was willing to roll with it. Walking past the gate, I was â€“ at first â€“ slightly disappointed. Your first view of the grounds seems rather small – until you keep walking. A Faire themed rendition of â€œThese are a few of my favorite thingsâ€ brought a smile to my face, and I was quickly entranced with the fact that this Faire has a LAKE. There is a frigginâ€™ lake with a little stream that is incredibly pleasant to sit next to in the shade.
It was quite hot, at least for a woman in black petticoats and corset, however there were plenty of vendors with cold water and a free water fountain as well. Heads up: It does have the sulfur smell that I know, from living in WV, is perfectly fine but still weirds me out. I used it to fill an empty bottle and wet parts of my petticoat and chemise during the hottest parts of the day. If it doesnâ€™t bother you, huzzah! And if it does, you might wanna bring some bottles of water yourself.
There was a nice variety of foods as well and the food vendors themselves were quite friendly. I was pleased by the selection and grabbed a bit of ice cream and a mango slushie to help beat the heat. Worth noting to my non-Jewish friends: There was an entire booth that specialized in bacon called â€œBacon Broadsâ€.
The cast were quite polite and friendly and the grounds were sufficientlyÂ family friendly, including a large play ship for kids to climb all over. Iâ€™m not sure if that is always on the grounds or if the faire set it up, but either way it was a kid magnet. Speaking of family friendly, there is not a lot of drinking at the event which is unusual at Faires in my experience and was quite refreshing. As an alcoholic in recovery, itâ€™s sometimes hard to attend events where drinking isn’t heavily part of the event. I donâ€™t begrudge anyone their ale at a Faire, but itâ€™s hard to say no over and over to something you actually want quite badly! There is a booth for a local winery, but that was about it and it was fairly confined to that tent.
The entertainment was also fantastic. I caught several performances midshow and stopped watched Jacques the Whipperâ€™s act several times. Iâ€™m a sucker for an accented man wielding fire and whips, what can I say? I noticed there was also a live musical on classical instruments group playing near the lake that provided a lovely ambiance for the Faire, particularly soothing if you plopped on the grass nearby to rest your feet. Not that I did that. At all. Ever.
This being a very spur of the moment trip, I didnâ€™t buy much. There were some lovely weapon vendors there and a variety of leathercrafters as well. I would love to see more corset and bodice dealers in the future but thatâ€™s because itâ€™s me and I am addicted to corsets. I did nearly succumb and buy a sun umbrella from Traders of Tamerlane (quite reasonably priced!) but I just didnâ€™t have enough on me to justify it. There was also a scavenger hunt in place, â€œQuest for the Roseâ€ and it was delightful to watch children running around to different cast members and vendors as they tried to solve the puzzles.
I noticed a few vendors using Square but the majority I encountered (food vendors anyway) were cash only, which is pretty much what I expected from a Faire! There is an ATM on the grounds but I would suggest actually planning ahead (donâ€™t be me) and bringing a bit of cash for food and other pretties.
The overall feel of the Faire was quite warm and welcoming. I kept fairly to myself â€“ being rather shy when on my own – but didnâ€™t feel shut out. When I made an effort to speak to someone, they were happy to engage me and quite kind. I was not pestered by catcalling or rude remarks and felt quite safe laying on the grass with my eyes shut.
When I arrived at the Faire, I was emotionally worn out. I left refreshed. Nobody cared that my garb wasnâ€™t perfect or that I couldnâ€™t keep my accent. I highly suggest this Faire and will certainly be back!
* Kate Foil is a consummate goofball and friend of the fairies. At faire she can usually be found near shiny things, be they swords or jewelry. Kate can be found at: @GamerNationGirl on Twitter or TheGeekyRedhead on Facebook.