Around Atlanta: Georgia Renaissance Festival

Fred and George say that throwing tomatoes at the heckler is time well-spent. Last year’s heckler was a true master of the insult and kept us in stitches.

So have you been wondering what Camp Granola does for fun when we’re not out exploring on some crazy cross-country roadtrip?

Well, we do search out urban experiential education at museums and such but the thing you should know about Fred and George is that they’re total sci-fi/fantasy geeks. Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Star Trek, Dr. Who… they love it all. Seriously, Fred wears a cloak as part of his daily attire. Sometimes there’s even chain mail involved. Yes, they go out adventuring and playing in nature but even then they’re off in mental fantasy-land, crafting intricate stories inspired by the places we visit.

Now that you know that, it won’t come as a surprise to you that the Georgia Renaissance Festival is one of the highlights of the year for them. And it’s almost upon us again with opening weekend only a couple weeks away… and yes, Camp Granola will be headed through the gates opening weekend.

What makes it great?

So of all the festivals and fairs to choose from, especially in springtime, what’s so magnetic about the Georgia Renaissance Festival?

Fred getting his groove on in a court dance. It’s the RenFest version of Twister.

For us, this particular one is local so that’s a no-brainer. But in general, it’s appeal lies in the grass, trees, and more natural atmosphere. I know it’s absolutely no surprise to you that those traits are right up Camp Granola’s alley, but I mention them to show the contrast between this festival and something like a county fair. The concrete, asphalt, noise, and lights of a typical county fair can be exciting in the short term, but it all quickly becomes overstimulating and wearisome.

The Georgia RenFest by contrast is actually quite relaxing and fun without treading towards overwhelming. When you can take a break in the shade of a tree or participate in a dance with the royal court, you’re bound to be able to feel rejuvenated not exhausted.

It’s not quite as bad as a theme park, but don’t forget where you left the car.

And you can’t help but be inspired by the costumes some of the festival-goers wear. The amazing creations of these dedicated fantasy geeks are attractions in and of themselves. Let me assure you however, that Renaissance festivals are not just for those who are lured by their love of fantasy and history. It’s good fun for everyone of all ages, costumed in period garb or not.

The acrobats, shows, and demonstrations are all kinds of groovy and they appeal to all audiences. There’s also music, games, and the human-powered rides. Fred and George are particularly fond of throwing tomatoes at the heckler and finding would-be opponents to sword-fight. George would have me point out that the Crow’s Nest is simply the best ride ever. Of course, they both love the uber-geek shopping to be had… swords, armor, amulets, etc.

Some RenFest Tips from Camp Granola…

  • Go early: Early in the season tends to be less crowded as well as earlier in the day… and in both cases, the temperatures are friendlier as well. This one is fairly common sense when you think about an April morning vs. a June afternoon. No matter what time you go, it will always be less soul-sucking hot than the clear-cut, asphalt jungle of a county fair. Just sayin’. 😉
  • George is quite fond of funnel cakes, one of the many food offerings at the festival along with chocolate covered bacon and a seemingly endless list of fried options. Overhead one year while standing in line: “If you can eat it, they can fry it.”

     

  • Traffic has a tendency to get snarled out front of the venue so allow more time than you think to get yourself into the gates.
  • This is not a budget-friendly event. Like any fair, the food, drinks, games, and entrance fees add up quickly. Check for advance ticket discounts and package deals to ease the pain a bit. Still, this is such a fun event, it is something worth dipping into the wallet for.
  • Bring cash for food purchases. ATMs are available on site but who wants to go hunting for one when you’d rather but soaking up RenFest? Also, lunchtime lines can get long so you have three options: eat early, eat late, or stand in line. As you can imagine, table-seating at prime lunchtime runs short… but there’s plenty of space for a picnic in the grass.
  • When you’re looking for cost savings, also check for themed weekends. They add a lot of fun to the event and they run the gamut from Mother’s Day celebrations to Dog-and-Cat weekend to Pirate weekend. This is also handy to know if you’d like to avoid rubbing elbows with lots of pirates, cats and dogs… or maybe even mothers. 😉

 

Now, I hope you’ll excuse me while I go into photo essay mode… here’s just a few more images of life at the Georgia Renaissance Festival but there are even more over on my Flickr site. Enjoy!

Try your hand at fencing…

My friend Paula, fiber artist extraordinaire, spinning her magic.

RenFest humor…

Seriously, how can I not include the smithy striking a pose? Do you think he can work the runway as well as he works the anvil? 😉

Make sure you stop by the royal court to get knighted…

Colorful characters provide a musical interlude in the RenFest fun.

It’s easy to find a cozy spot to rest in between sword battles.

Epic feats of balance…

So if you’re looking for a different experience in your festivals or fairs and you’re going to be in Georgia between now and June 2nd, give the Georgia Renaissance Festival a try. If you’re not going to be in Georgia but you’d like to find one in your area, check out this handy list or this one. Obviously not all Renaissance-type festivals are created equal so be sure to do your research to make sure the one you choose will fit your expectations.

And now for your moment of green…

Be sure to say hello to my froggy bard friend at the entrance…

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