"Next year, I'm bringing the grandkids here. They will love this!" — P. Andrews

26th Central Coast Renaissance Festival

17 & 18 - JUL - 2010

The Green Knight Afternoon Parade

The Renaissance Era made its annual return to El Chorro Regional Park, and the usual assortment of good people did abound. Weather was warm, but not oppressive, and everyone was in good humor for the day. Craftsmen, artisans and merchants were on hand, as were several hundred reenactors of The Renaissance. These included Her Majesty, the Queen, and her entourage, along with noblemen, ladies, knights in shining armor, and even peasantry. Such an assembly of people, and their playful mood, is always a good environment for fun and photography.

Dance and Music

Turning Lively Morning Dance Afternoon Dance

The first activity seen upon entering the shire is dance. The Barleycorn Dancers perform near the gate at opening and closing. Visitors can join the fun, and the Barleycorns will teach the dances to those who want to participate. Action is fast, and light is challenging for photography. The best you can hope for is good composition and light that is "manageable." For these photographs, a wide-angle lens covers group action, and a short telephoto and motor drive isolates a fair lass in the swing of things.

Merriment on Stage The Row Solo Steps Celtic Trio

The Barleycorn Dancers performed on stage later in the day. Also on stage were the Everything Celtic Dancers and Troupe Mayyadah. Shown here are only the Celtics. Troupe Mayyadah gave a good performance, but I didn't find a reasonable way to deal with the light when I saw them on stage. Such are the vagaries of outdoor performances.

Playing for Barleycorn Young Musician Fiddler Near the Ale Shack Soprano Recorder

Well, you're not going to get much dancing without music. The musicians shown here were not all playing for planned dance performances, but spontaneous dancing to their music did sometimes occur. I don't know the names of all the musicians shown here, nor do I know the names of all the tunes that they played. But their efforts were easy on the ears. Sometimes I found them performing in light that was easy on the camera, too.

Elegant Fashion

Portrait on Red Stern A Man of Importance High Class Graceful in Green After Lunch The Hatter At the Hattery

Many came dressed in magnificent clothes. Whether they made their own clothes or not, they were dressed to the nines, well-fitted with each accessory perfectly appointed. People in the service of the Queen were, of course, dressed in grand style. There were many others, though, who were also dressed in similar high fashion. Some of them were visitors to the shire. All were agreeable to photography, and the photographs here represent them well.

Some of the fabrics were thick and heavy—almost like a rug— and appeared stiff and confining. People wearing such clothing were satisfied that the day's weather was only moderately warm. Others wore lighter, more maneuverable fabrics that also bespoke upper class refinement.

The Queen

Seated for Lunch Her Majesty She Knows But She Won't Tell A Royal Glance

Of course, any discussion about elegant fashion must include Her Majesty, The Queen. Such discussions flow easily enough. Photographing Her Majesty is not so simple. There is always a lot of activity surrounding her. And so, photographing the Queen's Progress, her shopping trip, or her lunch, is challenging. There is nearly always at least one person in view close behind her, and frequently at least one person in front of her.

Renaissance Faires provide opportunities to photograph unusual subjects and situations. Last year, there was a nun playing bagpipes. This year offered a demonstration of "The Queen's Dressing." We're not talking salad toppings here; this was about the Queen's wardrobe. So we saw the Queen getting dressed, with many assistants. And—god's teeth!—there's more clothes than Queen!

The Joust

Approach Contact Sliced The Charge Lances Ready Finding the Mark Shattered!

It's the real thing. I think they said two-thousand pounds of horse and one-hundred-fifty pounds of armor. That's for each knight. And they go after each other.

We saw the Irishman against the Englishman, aka "the mouth." The Englishman showered his disrespect upon anyone he deemed less worthy than himself, much to the amusement of all, including the unworthy themselves. England was going to win these contests, even if it meant repeated rematches until the score favored England. After all, this was on English turf, you know.

The Blocks

The Tumble Begins Ever Higher Stacking

Every Renaissance Faire has at least one stack of wood blocks for play. Slide one out from mid-stack, and place it on the top of the tower. As the stack gets taller, it becomes less stable. Removing a block from within, or just trying to remove one, can cause them all to come crashing down. Successfully removing a block means placing it at the top, which also might cause a collapse. Simple fun, simple pleasure. The girl shown here is quite skilled at this game—and wonderfully expressive! The blocks rise above her as she carefully executes her play. Ultimately, gravity wins.

The long and short of it is that the Faire is a fine and fun way to enjoy the day. It is part history and part play. I suppose that the event is much more structured than appearances would suggest. To visitors, though, the atmosphere is loose and playful. And for photography, the environment is full of color and costumes. Huge thanks to everyone shown here, and all the others who made the day what it was. Be well!