A Knight- er, Day- at the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Faire

Today we're going back in time. Back... back... way back... no, a little more...

Okay, stop! Stop! Stop here! (screeeeeeech!!!!)

Here. To the middle ages. When kings were kings, and chivalry was alive, and cell phone technology was large and clunky and...

Okay, well. So a little anachronism creeps in now and then.

Yes, folks, today we are going to the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival! For those who love pageantry, fantasy, romance-- and a certain amount of silliness-- this might just be the place for
you.

If decorating your home, you can actually find some very unique (and even tasteful) handmade items to integrate into your decor. And if decorating your own person, there's no shortage of jewelry and clothing to choose from there, either. This, in addition to exciting jousts, handsome knights, medieval nibblies, and wandering minstrels-- well, it makes a pleasant day out.

So let's enter through the guarded castle walls on this beautiful September day, and see what's in store!...


Welcome to "The Shire," a village of shops, restaurants and performance stages integrated into the landscape of West Newton, PA.


We're grateful today we wore shoes with a little bit of traction on them, because we'll be walking over fields, down glens, and into dappled forests. Starting off, we think a little bit of shopping might be in order. We'll peruse wares today from intricate pewter goblets, light switches, and necklaces, to delicate Celtic-inspired earrings, heavy brocade cloaks, incense, leather-works, forged weaponry, hand-blown glass and more.

Like here at Delight's Fantasy Art tent, we pause and are struck by the artwork's bright colors...


You
examine some original tapestries and clever mousepads, while I set my sights on a print that would work well in my William Morris red-and-green livingroom...


We head down the forest path and encounter the Duck Lady. Ah, there are some strange and unusual characters in these dark times! This particular one has a serious duck fetish and a repertoire of about a million duck-inspired puns...

Here she chats with a teeny little princess who is wary of any person with a strong duck fixation.

But as the rest of us quack up, the toll of bells calls to us-- and we find ourselves mystified by a truly remarkable performance...


The instrument is the Carillon, and the artist is "Cast in Bronze." The carillon consists of 35 bells, played by a modified keyboard which uses the hands and feet-- and from what we read, this is the only musical act in the world to feature this four-ton medieval instrument.

The musician, Frank DellaPenna, performs his haunting compositions to the accompaniment of recorded vocals and other supplementary melodies. One of the pieces is an intriguing medley of "Tubular Bells" and the "Phantom of the Opera" theme. We end up mesmerized.


We also end up with some CDs to play in the car. For folks who'd like to learn more about this performance and see Cast in Bronze in action, click here and go to the Media section, to check out the videos.

Appetites whetted with shopping and music, we stop for a bite to eat. Should it be soup in a bread bowl, a giant turkey leg, or...? Ah, there it is! Fish and chips and an ice cold beer-- lovely! Then a bit more wandering before the jousting begins.

This fellow in blue tells us he'll be our wizard for this evening. He basically gives us the run-down of what we can expect from the jousting today, and who our resident Knight of the Realm will be...


And this is our knight-- Sir Roderick. He's pretty dishy, which is probably why we, his people, put up with his less-than-sportsmanly "Cheat to Win" motto. He's also a bloodthirsty sort... but he wears black and gold. Always fashionable here in Pittsburgh. (Er, The Shire.)


These are Sir Roderick's challengers, Sir William in the red, and Sir IDon'tRememberHisName in green and black.


Based on his shield emblem, he may be Sir Drinksalot-- what do you think?...


Here we see the Royal Court...


The king and queen speak, to open today's jousting festivities...


And then on to the main event!


Sir Drinksalot ends up wounded due to dirty dealings by our Sir Roderick. Sir William challenges Sir Roderick to a fight to the death and... Oh wait. The exciting conclusion ends up being the 5pm show. Gosh, this is more complex and dramatic than WWF wrestling!

Well, let's do a bit more wandering.


Need any pence from Ye Olde Money Store?...


We encounter some unexpected pirates...


And in order to be fair to my male readers, we have for you this buxom wench... See, I think of you guys, too!


And in M. Sotherden Art Glass, I become entranced by some beautiful hand-crafted glass and sterling silver necklaces. These two pendants will come home with me! I love the irridecent sparkle!


I notice the owner has a web site (msotherdenartglass.com) as well as an Etsy shop where she sells her work (msotherdenartglass.etsy.com ). Gosh, these Renaissance folks are awfully forward-thinking, in some respects, aren't they? Why, Etsy won't even exist for them for several hundred years!

Well, we take in one last musical act, and then we consider calling it a day.


Need to make a pitstop first?...


Comfy? Then we get back in our time machine and set the dials for 2008. Thanks so much for coming along with me today!

  • And did you seen last Sunday's "Fleaing Lambertville and Discovering New Hope"? If not, click here.
Otherwise, perhaps I'll see you this Wednesday for our next Treasure Box feature.

As they say in Medieval times, "Huzzah!"

21 comments:

Sher said...

A friend of mine proposed to his wife at a Renaissance Fair; he asked permission from the "king" to joust for her. (Another knight stepped in to do those honors for him). Maybe next year someone will joust for you - or you for him?
Hugs,
Sher

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Sher- Heh...Perhaps chivalry isn't dead after all. :) Hope springs eternal, anyway!

Da Old Man said...

Thank you, fair maiden, for this wonderful travelog back in time. Wait, had travelogs been invented yet? Did they still have the ue at the end of the log? Are the Steelers playing today? Do I ask a lot of questions?

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Da Old Man- Well, I think if we visitors can have cell phones and there's Ye Olde ATM, we can certainly let a little travelog slide. :)

I'm embarrassed to say, I don't actually know the Steelers schedule. They may throw me out of Pittsburgh for this! :)

Jaffer said...

Wow - I don't think you left out anything ! The pictures are terrific.

Duck Fetish ?! LOL ! I'll keep 250 meters away.
That's a lot of old heads in the Carillon Picture.

Now I know what word to look for the next time I need to go to the bathroom at a renaissance faire.
umm...Were the facilities medieval-modern or 21st century-modern ?

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Jaffer- Heh, I don't think the Duck Lady bit. But she was quite the character.

Regarding Ye Olde Privies, they're fairly elaborate portable King Johns. :) Sort of like airplane restrooms, for a close comparison.

Rosemary said...

Love the Ye Olde ATM machine!!
I have been to some of those faires, they are fun and entertaining. Thanks for sharing with us.
Have a great week, and Happy Fall!!
Rosemary

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Rosemary- It was one of those things that merited a photo! :)

I've been thinking of you, Rosemary, too, as I put up my Halloween decor in my dining room. I don't have a ton of it as you do, but I do have a few pieces I like a lot. Like you, it's one of my favorite holidays. I'll take pics to share in the near future.

Hope you have a great week yourself!

Evie/VampyVictor said...

Oh wow that looks like so much fun!
I wish we had them here :(

Shirley said...

That looks fun. I've never been to one.

Patrick Lynch said...

What fun! About thirteen years ago when I was president of the Lexington (KY) Art League we hosted a banquet for the Society for Creative Anachronism at Loudoun House which is castellated Victorian Gothic villa complete with a three story tower. We set up a long banquet table in the drawing room and a rollicking good time was had by all. I got there a little late so I missed the other activities but did witness displays of swordsmanship among some of the knights.

A very dear friend of mine in Dallas attends both the Irish festival and the Ren Faire which delights her Preraphaelite soul no end. She of course is in full costume and when you see her she looks as though she completely belongs in the era.

JennyfromAspinwall said...

I was just thinking the other day how much I wanted one of those huge turkey legs! Messy and hard to manage, but who can resist food that is as big as your head? The only downside? The guys that swing them around and proclaim themselves "Henry the Eighth, I am, I am!" Happened to me twice, believe it or not.
We were sorry to miss the Faire this year- just no budget for the gas... ;-(

Happy Fall, and enjoy your treasures!

J

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Evie and Shirley- If you ever get the chance, it's worth seeing what you think. Shirley, there's usually lots of games and tings for kids, so your kids wouldn't be bored. :)

Patrick- Oh, I bet Loudon House was the perfect setting! There were a lot of folks in costume this year-- more than other years. Your friend would have fit right in!

Jenny- You made me laugh with your turkey leg description-- it's so true, too! I've missed the Faire the last couple of years, so it was nice to go again. They've really stepped things up in terms of the grounds-- lots of permanent little buildings-- it's really turned out nicely.

Lana Gramlich said...

I love the Renn faire! Down here in the south it runs from early Nov. to early Dec., when the weather's just perfect for it. One of the local cast members is an insulter--we never fail to see his show (or contribute financially.) He's SOOOO freaking hysterical! I looked into vending at the fest this year, but it costs well over $1000 (IF they accept you.) I have to assume I'd never get my money back...Particularly as we SPENT $1000 last time we went. Years ago I actually bought some Renn-ware, but when we go to Fest, I always end up wearing one of my Monty Python & the Holy Grail t-shirts (for comfort's sake, if nothing else!)

chyna said...

So that is what real SCA people look like. I was really beginning to think it was just an excuse to have orgies and drink til you puke. Let's just say the group in my area is not of the highest standards. LOL

Jenn Thorson said...

Lana- Huzzah for your Monty Python shirt! With a couple of coconuts, you'd be fully-accessorized!

Chyna- Heh, I think you need to upgrade your Creative Anachronists. They're perhaps taking too many liberties on that creative angle. :)

Here there are usually a few very impressive knights, and at least one excellent Jack Sparrow.

Carrie said...

Well, this was a very nice outing...I enjoyed each segment of the day's adventures.

santosh pandey said...

that looks like fun. Hope to get chance one day.

Allison said...

First time visitor here. I am Moon-Writer from Blog Catalog, I can say you posted this so well I feel as if I were there. Very Fascinating. I am going back to check on your other posts, but by what I just saw you definitely have my interest!Thanks!

Jenn Thorson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Carrie- Oh, I'm so glad! :) Hope you've been having a good week.

Santosh- I hope it will work out for you that you get that chance!

Allison- Ah, I saw you posting on BC yesterday-- welcome, and thanks for visiting here.