As promised, I’m reflecting back on a late Summer excursion to New Jersey for the Lakewood Lions Renaissance Faire. It was a family excursion that started out with my mom, grandmother and I heading across the Delaware River bound for Lakewood. Once there, we stopped at an aunt and uncle’s house since my cousins and I had arranged getting together for the event. My aunt and one cousin’s boyfriend decided to join us for a day of renaissance festivities as well.
Taking two cars, we were on our way to the recreational park where the renaissance faire was to be held. We arrived within 15 minutes of leaving my relatives’ house and men dressed as monks directed us toward parking spaces. A girl in a purple velvet renaissance dress handed out programs of the day’s scheduled events that would take us back in time.
With our cars parked, we then had the option of either walking about 10 minutes or taking a three-minute bus ride into the faire grounds. We opted for the short bus ride since there were varying walking abilities in our group. The blue and white Township of Lakewood bus winded its way through a wooded area, bumping here and there as it passed by lion-themed shields.
The bus unloaded and we entered into the renaissance faire grounds, which was filled with tents of vendors selling a variety of crafts. A few knights on horseback followed behind us before we began our way down a slight grassy hill to souvenir shop. One vendor, “Celtic Chairde Creations,” caught my eye with a front table covered by a Celtic knot work tablecloth.
According to a brochure I picked up, the word “chairde” means “friends.” Their tent had a lot of bath and body products, along with some crafts such as this “Ireland” stitching and others below.
I didn’t buy anthing yet, wanting to work my way around and see what the other vendors had in store for us. So I began to leave the tent and rejoin my group, when who did I see walking up the hill but Captain Jack Sparrow!
“Hey, Jack Sparrow!” I called out to him and the very good likeness of Johnny Depp’s popular pirate character turned around, reacting in full character.
We continued down to the bottom of the hill, where a procession of costumed characters was beginning to go by. Knights on horseback, belly dancers, medieval maidens, fire baton twirlers and more swashbuckler were all there walking to a beating drum.
After the procession made its way up where we walked down from, some of us stopped to check out a little pirate scene. Like a scene out of “Goonies,” the skeletons of two ill-fated pirates lay slumped against barrels of gun powder (or maybe Jack Sparrow’s rum). A skull and crossbones flag, ship’s wheel, cannon and a pile of cannonballs completed the swashbuckling scene. My grandmother loved the ship’s wheel in particular, as she loves maritime-themed objects.
We worked our way up the hill, completing a u-shaped tour of the renaissance faire vendor tents before finally reaching a stage area. A pirate reenactment was starting up, during which a few interesting things happened.
As the swordfighting got under way, I turned away for a moment to see a mysterious and fully-masked Paladin knight talking with my aunt. It didn’t seem like anyone else in my group noticed yet, their full attention on the pirates and the display of swordsmanship. When they turned to see the knight, they got a kick out of him as well, not expecting to see him there. He had signed a paper listing various renaissance faire characters from whom attendants could get autographs.
The next thing that happened was a shock to my ears because I stood leaning against the right side of the stage. That turned out to be a little close to the pirate action going on in the coming moments. One pirate standing in front of the stage and closer to the opposite side seemed to look in my general direction. He threw something at an enemy swashbuckler who stood somewhere between us. Suddenly, a medium-sized cannon only two feet to my left went off and startled me! Of course, nothing was actually fired out of it. However, my hearing was somewhat muted for the next few minutes. It sent a few laughs through those attending the renaissance faire with me that day; I couldn’t help but laugh as well at that surprise.
During one part of the reenactment, Captain Jack Sparrow showed up again and appeared to be making a bargain with the other pirates. When it didn’t work out, he went running into the crowd standing opposite of us. Picture the scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” when Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) doesn’t want to leave the island without the swaggering pirate, until spotting Jack trying to outrun the island natives and catch up with the ship. When Jack is shown from behind running along the beach, that is exactly what the renaissance faire Jack Sparrow looked like. As I mentioned, he was in full character and did a very good job with the voice and mannerisms of the movie pirate.
Following the sword-to-sword battle of sea-faring villains, the next big attraction was the joust. Getting into the renaissance faire spirit, I bought a flowery halo with streamers hanging down the back, deciding to wear it while watching the knights charge toward each other.
A crowd gathered at bleachers across from the vendor area of the renaissance faire, awaiting the arrival of the knights. We could see them riding slowly around a bend to the jousting ground – or lysts, as you might hear them referred to in the movies. There were a few cars parked nearby, giving humor to any photo of knights in shining armor as they approached on horseback.
One knight with long, flowing blonde hair finally galloped past the crowd on a black horse and then began to address everyone. He announced the two jousting knights as they each took a turn riding past the crowd and waving. Before the joust began, the crowd was divided by the announcer, who assigned rooting sections to the knights. A few friendly verbal jabs were exchanged between the opponents, bringing laughter to their respective fans.
Several surprising practice runs included surprising stunts with the knights taking turns trying to slice a cabbage while galloping by. But that’s only part of it, because the leafy vegetable was placed on top of a helmet worn by a brave renaissance faire character. The following practice involved jabbing, while mounted on their galloping horses, a target placed on some hay.
The jousting began shortly after that and early on, the knight who I rooted for was knocked off his horse. However, he eventually won the joust and I even got a piece of broken lance autographed by him.
Check out more photos I took at the renaissance faire posted on my flickr page at: