Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Ah, Renaissance Europe, when I think of you I think of brilliant artists, genius stateswomen, Shakespeare, the Medici, the rebirth of learning and now…GIANT freaking boobs…

I have never seen so many boobs pinched and heaved to an inch of their life as at Thee Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale. Many participants in the Renaissance Faire are of the more voluptuous turn and seem to like to wear corsets that stop just under the bosom so that their DD’s can absolutely spill over their polyester peasant blouses. This seems to be a kind of mating call to the many swingers who (according to a tattooed bondage type lady we met- I believe she called herself a “fantasy carnie”) troll the faire looking for others to “ravish”, as one delightful herald kindly offered to do to me while hawking turkey legs.

The bawdy atmosphere doesn’t stop there. The faire is HUGE, a winding, dusty and colorful bizarre next to a beautiful, calm lake. Vendors sell petticoats and mead, squires and wenches play traditional board and dice games, children and costumed adults crowd typical fair booths (shoot the crown off the king etc…) with an olden times theme. There are multiple performances on different open air stages- magicians, comedians, and my favorite, a troupe who specializes in dirty(and I mean dirty) songs. A full fledged royal procession of HRH Queen Elizabeth I took over the streets at one point, with cheers and songs being sung by the decked to the nines, joyful regulars.

The fellowship that goes on between the comfortable costumed communities is heartening. I think one of the big draws of these faires is the great amount of banter and human interaction that they provide. People yell across to each other from the gallows to the washing tub, using vague old English, telling jokes and saying dirty, (mostly) good-natured things. Many of the participants seem like they are probably rather awkward and feel misplaced in real life, but here size, and looks and skin don’t matter. Cat and I both (as did Doren and Ben who also joined us) envied the great sense of play and make believe that goes into learning an intricate Maypole dance, or creating a court costume or drinking stout out of a wooden mug as you get married to your winged, goth partner (at Ye Old Wedding Gazebo, of course).

The Renaissance faire takes place every year and goes on for one more weekend. All girls and open minded boys should definitely go if it's pretty out. It may seem like a freak show, but there is a surprising bit of substance behind the obsolete style.

PS: The Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area where the Faire is held is amazing. Irwindale seems to be squarely centered in Fitzgerald's “Valley of the Ashes” but the park is really awe-inspiring, with a huge white rock dam you can ride your bike on top of, a swim beach on the lake, and lots of day trip and picnic opportunities.

Travel: D (You will need a good mix of music, preferably some CCR.)
Ease: B-(Off roading is required when parking.)
Content: A
Subjective Coolness: A
Overall: B+

Directions: Take the 101-South to the CA-60 East. After 10 miles you will merge onto the I-605 North. Take exit 25 for Live Oak Ave. towards Irwindale. Keep right at fork and follow signs for Live Oak Ave. Continue onto Arrow Hwy. Turn right into the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area Park. Trip takes around an hour.
Hours: 10:00am-7:00pm. April 10th- May 23rd ONLY!
Price: $25.00- adults, $22.50-students( I was given the student rate although I lost my ID card before I graduated from college...), $15.00-children.

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