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1 April 2012

Festival returns with bears, fencing, body art

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Casey Martin, performer with KamiKaze FireFlies, tries to blow out her flaming hula hoop at the end of one of her tricks at te Florida Renaissance Festival on Sunday. Martin and hr partner, Rob Williams, travel around the United States performing on streets and at festivals. Cayla Nimmo//Assistant Photo Editor

The Renaissance Festival has made its return to Miami.

For a few weeks, you’ll get the chance to joust, wear a crown and even feed a bear. Although it may seem like an unconventional way to spend the weekend, it’s definitely worth stepping out of your comfort zone to experience the festivities the event has to offer.

Here are the top five things to check out when you hit up the festival.

1. Watch a Performance

Gypsy dancers, wild animal exhibits and jousting are just a few of the interactive shows you can catch at the festival.

“Predator Performance” offered the audience an up-close encounter with bears, alligators and tigers.

Comedy routines allow audience members to participate on stage. Singing troupes travel around the festival, serenading attendees.

For the more daring at heart, knife throwing and fire juggling are just some of crazy skills that the festival performers have up their sleeves.

2. Feast Like A King

In typical Ren Fest style, you can catch the smell of giant juicy turkey legs while you take a stroll by the food stands.

Full ears of corn, funnel cakes, chocolate dips, cheescakes, candy apples and an assortment of fried foods fill the main path, offering appetizing ways to get into the Renaissance mindset.

3. Play a Game

Looking for an adventure? Sword fighting and spear throwing are just two of the games with a medieval twist at the festival.

For the more faint of heart, giant chess and jenga are up for grabs.

Instead of knocking over bottles, why not knock over priests? Looking to take on your friends in a water balloon fight? You’re at the right place.

Many of the other game stands, including skee ball, also have a Renaissance twist. The games are priced at around $5 to $10.

And if you’re looking to really shake it up, pay $2 to feed  grapes to a bear.

4. Arts and Crafts

If you’re a fan of wax exhibits, you’re in luck. The festival’s exhibit lets attendees create a wax molding of their hands in any pose, even holding hands with a friend.

Instead of having somone draw a caricature of you, create your own.

Other exhibits include an area that features artists who create personalized pieces of blown glass and even a station to make your own recycled paper with flowers and reeds pressed in. For a little extra pizzazz, create a personalized seal for your stationery.

5. Get Into Character

Many performers walked around the event in character. There was a king, minstrels and even wenches who entertained guests.

Dressing up is always encouraged and it can be a great experience if you choose to do so. Some attendees choose to dress up as gypsies, fairies and royalty.

In case you don’t have a fairy costume sitting in your Halloween box, the festival’s artists can help you get the job done.

Get your face painted at one of the stands. If you’re into body art, there are also henna and body artists ready to decorate your clean skin.

To feel like royalty, buy yourself some fancy earrings and a matching crown.

Not into the bling? For more of a whimsical look, slap on some fairy  wings, horns and a fox tail.

Everything is handmade by the festival’s artisans who pride themselves in their craft. Though prices can be high, the quality of the jewelry makes your purchases worthwhile.

If You Go:

What: Florida Renaissance Festival

When: The festival runs through Sunday. The opening ceremony begins at 9:45 a.m. Gates open at 10 a.m.

Where: Cauley Square Historic Villiage, 22400 Old Dixie Highway, Miami

For more info: Visit ren-fest.com.