The Renaissance Festival is back at Miami's Historic Cauley Square for its third year, and even if you've been before, there's plenty of old favorites and new excitement to catch your attention.
Besides all the fabulous costumes and smoked-meaty goodness, there's tons of action, adventure, animals, and just plain silliness.
Where else can you walk through the woods and be heckled by a guy who looks like he hasn't showered in a century? (Well, there aren't forests downtown)
The village provides the perfect backdrop for attendees to be transported to the 16th century, and we set out over the weekend to see just how picture-perfect this year's Festival can be. In case you needed more reason to attend than the chance to finally wear that cape in your closet without looking like a creep, here are seven more.
7. The Weaponry
One row of the festival was filled with ways to display prowess with various weapons of the age. Get your aggression out with axes, knives, and throwing stars. Our favorite was the archery booth, where a few bucks got you a full quiver of arrows to shoot and tap into your inner Katniss/Merida/Ygritte/Robin Hood. With recent pop culture revisits of the bow and arrow, it's no wonder this was one of the more popular attractions this year -- and the shade certainly didn't hurt.
6. The Jousting
The horses are huge and the armor is real for good reason. This is full-contact jousting. Three riders compete for a shot at the king and queen's favor and a fancy copper rod for a trophy. They start by a few feats of skill, like knocking something off or threading a ring with your sword. Then, the jousting. One knight pointed out the dents in his armor with a bit of a sore groan.
5. The Performers
Magicians, musicians, and comedians graced various stages, but some of the funniest people are encountered just by wandering the grounds. One such performer is a medieval realtor who approached us and tried to sell a variety of floor plans in 16th century Florida. Another was very, very good at goading partners into buying flowers for their dates. All manner of jesters and travelers from foreign lands walk the hoards commenting on attendees' curious future-costumes and generally heckling folks.
4. Human-Powered Rides
You could get on a variety of rides that resemble 16th-century versions of what you might find at the Youth Fair, except these are powered by pure human strength. DaVinci's Hurlinator, a ride where four people spin, is powered by participants, so you can get a workout while trying to keep your lunch down.
3. Wild Animals
The people weren't the only spectacle: animals from falcons to a whole wild animal show drew crowds in for an equal dose of entertainment and education. There's a bengal tiger, a variety of snakes, and a couple of cuties that tugged at the heartstrings. Toby, a monkey, as well as a three-week old tiger, were brought out to melt hearts and triggered a wave of donations to the wildlife preserve that houses them. As little as a dollar got you some one-on-one time with the little ones.
2. Domesticated Animals: The Karma the Dogma Show
This pup is great, and her human offered practical advice on how to train your own pup to be just as acrobatic (if not as adorable). Our favorite trick was one called "Plunder," where Karma would fetch tips from the audience and deposit them in the tip basket. Now, that's a good girl.
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1. People Like You
A Renaissance festival wouldn't be the same without attendees getting in on the action. Some of the folks were so successful, we had a hard time discerning whether they were part of the show. Break out the wench-wear and get yourself out there.
If you want to get in on the action, you better hurry. The Renaissance Festival in Miami's Historic Cauley Square has one more weekend left. Visit ren-fest.com