We Went Back in Time at the Minnesota Ren Fest
I feel like everyone always talks about the State Fair for months in advance. They drone on and on about all of the food they plan to eat and ‘Oh, don’t forget to check out the butter cow!’ They build up to this week long event as though it’s the pinnacle moment of end of summer activities.
Don’t get me wrong, I too enjoy the Minnesota State Fair. Hell, I even wrote my own post about it. But I must say, I much prefer the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Maybe it’s partially because you get to dress up as little or as a fully committed to Jon Snow as your little heart desires and no one bats an eye. Or maybe I just like all the yelling of “Hazzah!” as mead is poured into my wooden mug and actors frolic past in faerie wings throwing glitter in the air.
If you’ve never been to the Ren Fest before, there are a couple of things you should know.
The grounds open at 9am and there are 2 entrances - The King’s Gate and the Queen’s Gate. The King’s gate is the larger of the two and most traffic is directed this way. It’s worth your while to get there a little early if you can because traffic does get very backed up later in the day - both on the highway and in the parking lots.
Unlike the State Fair, the Ren Fair is only open until 7pm, so that’s another reason to go earlier in the day to make the most of it. But on the upside, parking is totally free!
The other thing you should know is that while nearly every one of the shops take credit cards, the majority of the food vendors do not. There are ATMs on the grounds, but the Wifi is terrible and takes FOR-EV-ER, so you should stop at a gas station before you get there.
The Fest is totally family (including your fur babies) friendly! However, note that some of the shows being performed are full of sexual innuendos and crude language, so if you’re easily offended, maybe just stick to watching the joust.
I would also recommend wearing shoes you don’t care about getting dirty. On hot, dry days, the grounds are very dusty and it can get everywhere. On cold, wet days, you find yourself skirting around giant mud puddles.
The only bathrooms are porta-potties. As someone who as to pee like every 20 minutes, I always like to know what my bathroom situation is gonna be! Honestly if someone had a blog post simply about where the best public restrooms are, I’d be all for it. Hell, maybe I’ll work on that. But for now, I’m too busy pretending to be a pirate to worry too much about sharing me’ nakey booty on a public potty.. arrrgh.
Even after all of these years, I still love watching the shows, (including occasionally being pulled into tight spaces to hear some dirty limericks.) I feel like every time we go, I notice something new!
Your trip to the Ren Fest would not be complete without paying too much money to play one of the games. You can throw tomatoes at the actor heckling you, throw dull axes around and shoot barrels of hay with arrows. Really it seems like all of the games are designed to let off some steam. I don’t even think you can win anything… the prize is just getting to say “Hey, I drank mead and threw axes today! Hazzah!”
This year, we shot bows and arrows. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done this, so yeah.. it was difficult! Maybe I shouldn’t admit that my arm still hurts.. but it totally does.
There are also tons of games designed just for the wee ones. Which is kind of a shame if I’m being honest. Hell yes I want to go on a zip line across the park! Ride a tiny pony? Um, yes please! Fun house inside a fake castle? This is where dreams come true! But only if you’re like, under 4 feet tall.. *sigh Ah well, I get to drink whiskey cider all day, so I’ll let it go.
I hope you find yourself at the Ren Fest next year. I like to think we’ll see each other and we’ll scream ‘Slainte!’ as we slam our mugs together and chug a Guinness like the merry men who came before us.