Going on weekends through September 22nd, the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, NY is a fun family day trip.  My husband and I thought our kids would enjoy the history and spectacle of the Faire,  so when it opened this season, we decided to check it out.  Not having been to the Faire since I was a teenager, I was a little skeptical.  For the most part, many festivals and fairs seem like little more than paying admission to a glorified flea market, and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the trip.

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Arriving at the Faire was spectacle in and of itself.  After parking in a designated lot, we were directed onto a bus which drove us a few miles down the street to the Faire entrance.  Immediately upon entering, my kids were mesmerized by the costumes.  Everyone from Faire staff to guests were decked out in makeup and period costumes.  After paying $1 for a program, we scouted out the stages and shows, planning our afternoon.  We began with a belly dancing show, which captivated our attention.  More campy than skill, the women enticed the audience to clap and sway along.

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After stopping for a gigantic pickle (I didn’t see the appeal, but my older daughter begged for one!), we were off to the next show.

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This daredevil act involved a scrappy looking guy who joked about his need for attention as he rode a unicycle over a tightrope and juggled fire and a chainsaw.  Definitely not something to try at home.

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Since we’re gluten-free we brought our own lunch, but as we ate we eyed turkey legs bigger than my younger daughter’s head, and ended our meal with neon cotton candy.  We wandered around the Faire grounds, dodging booths selling eye patches, lizards, and wooden shields (ah, the glorified flea market, aka my least favorite part; I knew it’d be there).  My girls were taken by the hair braiding booth, but at $30 per person, we passed.  The grounds were pretty, albeit a little run down, but we stopped to take in the sights over a cute bridge featuring a mechanical alligator in the water, and some maypole dancers.  One of them grabbed my older daughter and she got to participate in their dance.

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Next up was a magic show, which was funny enough but little more than you could find at a birthday party.  Although it was getting hot and we were fading a bit, we heard through the Renaissance grapevine that the kids’ shows were not to be missed.  We watched Storybook Theater, which was cute for kids, and told the tale of an ogre and a witch with magical hugs.  As this was ending, the actor playing the tree shouted out, “Come to our Pirate show, down the way!”  Fortunately for us, we had saved the best for last.  “The Greatest Pirate Story (N)ever Told” was an improv show with a skeleton of plot filled in with audience participation.  The actors sang, danced, kissed, and fell down laughing. So did we.  My husband is an actor, and throughout the show we kept looking at one another in surprise over the quality of their work. This show was professional, and afterwards we found out that they’re on their way back to Broadway. No surprise!

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Finally, it was time to leave, and also to make good on our promise for souvenirs.  After perusing the booths once more, my daughters each chose a belly dancing wrap to take home.  We have fond memories of our trip back to the Renaissance era, and recommend it for anyone interested in traveling back in history or seeing some cute, campy shows and costumes.  Discount tickets are available on the Faire site through Walgreens.  Happy time travel!

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