A Faire by Any Other Name…

Husband and I, with our intrepid friends C and M, made the journey north to the Ohio Renaissance Festival this weekend. I went once in college (that’s a whole ‘nother story) and my friend C is a big ol Ren fest geek. She’s been dying to go for years and we finally made plans and did it, husbands in tow. We left Louisville, our fair city, Friday afternoon post-work and drove to Middle Earth Ohio (aka, Wilmington). Hilarity ensued.

It’s always interesting to travel with friends, especially those with whom you’ve never traveled, especially those who are zealous fans of the activity you are traveling to. Husband and I like this kind of festival. But C has been looking forward to this trip for months and was happier than a puppy with two peeters.  Her husband M was really just concerned that beer and food would be available.

Friday night, we decided to just find a hotel on the way and not bother with reservations or the like. What happened was a nifty gift from the universe. Taking the appropriate exit, we headed east. I plugged “hotel” into my iPhone map and located a few establishments including the West Inn. Which we promptly drove past as it sat in deep Bates-motel-esque shadow. Nobody wanted to turn back to investigate.

The next hotel we came to was the General Denver Inn. This, as my mom would say, was worth the price of admission. I went in to see about a room while the others waited in the car. I had to go into the pub to inquire as no one was at the front desk, except the giant moose head. The barkeep went to find the manager and the following conversation happened:

Lady at the table: Are you really watching that TV?

Me: Uh…no, I just, I’ve been in the car for three hours and I’m just really out of it.

Lady: Where are you coming from?

Me: Well we’re here for the Renaissance Festival…and we’re from Louisville…

Lady: And do you go to school there?

Me: (astounded…I graduated from grad school in 2000) Um, no I work, I graduated…a long time ago…

Lady: And what did you study?

Lady’s friend: Have you been to the festival before?

Lady: Do the wax hands. My friend does those.

Me: Uh…

Lady: If you stay here, there’s a ghost lady with a goiter!

Me: I’m going to check in now….

Turns out the lady’s name is Theresa and she’s a funny little person who ended up sitting at our table for a good hour, asking about our educational backgrounds, our animals, and where we were from. She told us about her animals, her bi-polar disorder, and her friend who does the wax dipped hands at the festival.

I asked the bartenders about the ghosts. Like so many old places, it had built up a history, including the ghost of a cat, several children, and apparently a woman with a goiter. The one bartender said that she’d felt the cat run over her in bed one night when she stayed after work.

The rooms were charming and well-appointed featuring chenille bedspreads and mint-colored walls.  We had drinks in our rooms then headed down to the bar where there was a lively bunch visiting and chatting, including Theresa who joined us for a good while. In the morning, we went back to the bar for breakfast which was included in our room price. We’re not talking some toast and milk. We had enormous stuffed omelets, thick sourdough toast, and real bacon, plus tea and coffee. Totally awesome.

The festival itself is out in the middle of nowhere. C was very interested in a) seeing as many shows as possible and b) finding a leather mug. I was interested in a) drinking Woodchuck on draft and b) people-watching. Like Dragon*Con, the Renaissance festival seems a good time for people to get out that one thing they can’t wear in public any other time except maybe Halloween. One guy had a katana strapped over his plaid shirt and jeans. There were women in various corset-based outfits – variations on the peasant wench are popular. Lots of people had gorgeous costumes, including elaborate doublets and hose, panniers and underskirts, bodices and haberdashery galore. I do love a good costume. Perhaps next year I can rope C into helping me make one.

It was a fun weekend, I must say, although I was pretty zonked all day today. I took a four hour nap this afternoon…


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