The thing about the Florida Renaissance Festival is that, it’s not for everyone. Those who don’t really dig history, guys on horses beating each other up or girls in tight corsets, will probably not have a grand old time. If, however, one enjoys seeing cleavage explode out of clothing or seeing great classics like Beowolf performed in mud, this is the shindig for you.
The festival covers a massive area in Quiet Waters Park, at 401 Powerline Rd. in Deerfield Beach. There, a patron will most likely come across dirty laundry wenches, royal guards, wandering rickshaws (always up for rental), and historical characters such as William Shakespeare and the Duke of Norfolk.
Again, for the non-history buffs who don’t even know who the Duke of Norfolk is, this place still offers great opportunities: Where else can one buy a pair of horns, hand-made silver jewelry, a fantasy sword, and a corset all in the same place?
It must be said: There are few places on earth, besides Renaissance fairs, with a matching inventory of wares for sale. Stuff most people didn’t even know existed is not only up for sale, but is present in great variety. How often have you, while walking through your mall of choice, seen three different stands selling glittered fairy wings?
Not to be confused with the Italian Renaissance Festival at Vizcaya, the FRF focuses on England during the time of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. This year’s particular theme focuses on the coronation of the Virgin Queen, who can be seen at the human chess match or greeting passing patrons by the gates.
Besides the Queen, the FRF also boasts live jousting competitions. Yes, this does include guys (and girls) on horses trying to hit each other with big, pointy sticks. However, if one is expecting A Knight’s Tale-like joust, where the lances break frequently, one should brace for disappointment.
Though it is live combat, it is also rehearsed- but to a degree. The off-horse sword fights were slow and very obviously choreographed. However, the on-horse fights, though still slow, were much more entertaining to watch- if nothing else, just to hear the “clang” of a sword hitting someone’s helmet.
As an extra feature, the FRF offers patrons the option of attending the Royal Feast in the Great Hall (though for an added $39 to admission price). The food there is certainly better than what is offered by the vendors, and live entertainment is included, but whether it merits the extra cash is debatable.
Not to take anything away from the vendors, however, as they offer up everything from garlic-boiled mushrooms to smoked turkey legs to a $3 brownie (that, the reporter was told, was worth the price) and everything in between, variety far from lacking. Neither is opportunity: Because of its massive size, pubs and food courts are plentiful. And where else could you ask for a pint of mead and actually get it?
Overall, the FRF would be a great place to go every weekend save for two things: The hour-plus drive on I-95 to get there and the $15 entry fee. It will be open Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 p.m., until March 3.
However, if the driving’s not a problem, but the fifteen bucks are, the South Florida Blood Banks’ Blood Mobile might be parked out front- their deal is, if you donate, they’ll pay your entry fee. If loosing a little blood isn’t an issue, it’s probably worth the trouble.