Eleanor Widmer 8:30 a.m., March 23
SoCal’s Rennfest and Highland Games
The tents had been erected on twenty acres at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale for the month long Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire’s fiftieth year Golden Jubilee celebration. More than 13 stages offered entertainment from around the world--labeled either censured and uncensored for family planning convenience. Those with “naughtier appetites" selected to see the bawdy Belles of Bedlem, the brigand pirates that make up SoCal’s Dread Crew of Oddwood or the Poxy Boggards, the self proclaimed drinkers with a singing problem.
Besides cultural dancers, comedic, theatrical and magical performers also took to the stages. Between shows, revelers rode the dragon, swung in a giant multi-person swing or dunked the village thud. The more adventuresome scaled the castle wall, tossed axes, welded swords and shot arrows. The cultured crowd took tea with the Queen or listened to harp music with the beautifully painted Fairies beneath their giant spider web.
Although famed for its massive grilled turkey legs, pork ribs and troll ears, (chocolate/caramel covered pretzels), as well as for its lusty busty wenches and randy pickle and nut peddlers, the Faire thankfully provided vegetarian and gluten free meal options.
The scone strawberry short cake with a half pound dollop of fresh whipped cream was an eye catching dessert. The Puffs 'n Berries, a fresh strawberry and éclair on a stick chocolate dipped fondue also turned heads. Perhaps most welcome given the heat of the outdoor daytime event was the gourmet sorbet served in frozen shelled fruit halves, (oranges, lemons, peaches, mangoes, pineapples and coconuts). Specialty marshmallows were sold in a variety of exotic flavors including lavender honey, Bavarian cream, peppermint and chocolate.
Although completely optional, many experienced attendees dressed for the occasion and knowingly interacted with the wandering ‘fools’ and other strolling characters, such as the dirty cleaning wenches and welded randy innuendos as swiftly as the paid professionals did. Pocket pooches and personal steeds were prohibited from the faire grounds, yet sheathed peace-tied costume weapons were allowed for those inclined to attend in authentic medieval attire.
The Faire is held annually each weekend in May and offers weekly themes with related special events. The raucous pub crawl that guides visitors in loud rowdy crowds from pub to pub is generally a quick sell-out so its best to reserve tickets early next year.
For those who missed this year's Faire, tickets are now on sale for the up coming 39th Annual Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of Clans held at Vista's Brengle Terrace Park Moonlight Amphitheater. Tickets will be sold at the gate. $15/adult, $12/senior and military, and $8/child 6-16.