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UPDATED AUGUST 2017: The New York Renaissance Faire is back in Tuxedo, NY, and runs Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day through Oct. 1.
The New York Renaissance Faire is back in the Orange County town of Tuxedo for its 40th season, and it is putting on a show you may find yourself looking forward to each and every year. I hadn’t attended this event before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My 4-year-old daughter Brooklyn, her dad, and I made the scenic 45-minute drive from upper Manhattan to see what the Renaissance Faire is all about.
Once we arrived, it completely blew my mind. The faire is set up as a 65-acre Elizabethan village. It feels like being on a movie set. This celebration of the 16th century is filled with hundreds of costumed performers, jousting tournaments, music, festive foods, magicians, manually powered rides, and more than 100 shops selling mostly handmade wares. To add to the fun, most of the attendees dress up, too. The venue even offers rental costumes if you feel inspired to rent one for the day.
We began our day around 3pm, and our first stop was at the Queen's Glade, where Brooklyn participated in the Children's Knighting Ceremony. Here we were able to spend some time with “her majesty” and her court. It was a cute ceremony led by costumed knights who taught the kids about knighthood and their job to protect the realm. Brooklyn received a certificate of knighthood for her extraordinary courage, honor, and truthfulness, and was renamed Lady Brooklyn.
Our next stop was The Enchanted Forest, where Brooklyn settled in and fell in love with the fairies. Fairies don't talk, but Brooklyn quickly found a way to communicate with them: They made gestures back and forth and mimicked each other’s facial expressions. Some fairies even gave away treasures such as buttons and pixie dust.
Several times during the day, this area is also turned into Kidsquest, where kids can participate in a 30-minute adventure in which they work together to help the fairies save their enchanted homes.
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Next we tried the amusement rides. There are about a half dozen manually powered rides spread throughout the grounds. We rode the Dragon Swing, Bedlam Barrel, Crow’s Nest, and carousel. These are all unique, hand crafted, and pushed or spun by hard-working Faire employees, all dressed in character. As much fun as these were, I think the highlight was the games. Brooklyn and her dad played four rounds of archery, both eventually hitting the bullseye!
We refueled at Willow's Fair food pavilion, which is new this year and very charming. It's a row of restaurant stalls that offer a smorgasbord of foods, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. We ended up with sausage on a stick, pizza, and dragon chips. All were deliciously greasy and perfect fair food. While eating we watched performers dance and perform while many attendees joined in on the fun. It was a great break in our day and gave us a moment to take in the spirit of the festival and see how much fun everyone was having.
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Our next stop was Teatro Del Sol, where we caught an act by the famous Gypsy Geoff. He's known for juggling, fire manipulation, and other circus acts. We'll never forget this show because he ended up inviting Brooklyn onstage to do some tricks with him. She held sticks while she spun a plate on one and a metal bin on the other. Geoff then began playing them like the drums. To top it off, he poured a pitcher of water in the spinning metal bin, giving her a little shower. We all laughed about it, and since it was 90 degrees out, she was happy for the refreshing spray.
Our last planned stop for the day was the Royal Joust at the new Roselawn Jousting Tournament field. This event is free and offers a lot of great seating, including a new VIP option. Jousting is intense, so I had to reassure Brooklyn that the competitors were unharmed. We all did enjoy it, though, and even got to meet the riders and horses afterward.
As the jousting tournament ended, the Faire started closing down for the day. Brooklyn asked if she could be the leader to show us the way out, when a performer by the name of Daniel Liberti stepped by her side and said, “I’ll lead!” He asked her name and if she likes to make wishes. He put a pebble in her hand, told her to squeeze her hands and eyes as tight as she could, and make a wish. She announced her wish for a unicorn. He then took his staff and touched her hands with it, then told her to open her eyes and hands—well, there was no unicorn, but there was a crystal marble. It was such a fun, spontaneous experience, so much in line with the vibe of a Renaissance Faire.
We made our way toward the exit around 7pm and noticed all the performers gathering along the hills and paths on our route. A band started playing live Renaissance-style music, and everyone started dancing. Performers and attendees all danced together and celebrated a wonderful day of fantasy. My daughter found her favorite fairy up on the hill and they danced together until it was time to call it a day.
It's official: I am now a Renaissance Faire fan. And I will likely visit this one every year now.
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Estée Pouleris is the creator behind blog familyroadtraveled.com. She lives in NYC with her boyfriend and their daughter. See More.
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