Yesterday I attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival for the first time in over two years. I decided to go even though my husband is currently living elsewhere because I’ve always enjoyed going. I was kind of sad last year when a group of friends decided to go and my husband decided to go with them. Unfortunately for me I was still recovering from hip surgery and I hadn’t regained the stamina required to go to the festival. (Ironically that group of friends included the one female friend who is now with my husband. Another irony is that the friends had all arranged carpools and my husband told me that he drove that female friend. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I knew about her own serious personal problems and I thought we were good enough friends that she wouldn’t do this to me. Now I know different.)

I also wanted to try something that someone in my family once tried. My husband’s step-father used to talk about how there was a year—before he married my late mother-in-law—when he attended the Arizona Renaissance Festival nearly every weekend. His first marriage had ended when his wife decided that she wanted out of the marriage and she also wanted him out of their home. So he moved into a nearby apartment. Naturally he was very upset about how his marriage suddenly crumbled. So he went to the Arizona Renaissance Festival by himself every weekend in order to get his mind off of his marital problems. (By the way, my husband and I once went to the Arizona Renaissance Festival when we visited his folks. It was a fun time yet it was pretty surreal to see a recreation of a Renaissance-era English village in the middle of a dry arid desert with saguaro cacti in the background.)

With my own marriage being on the brink, I decided to do what my husband’s step-father once did and try going to the Maryland Renaissance Festival on my own and see what happened. I decided to do it just this one day and if I really loved it, I would go back every weekend until mid-October (when the festival ends).

I have to admit that there were good things. I was able to do whatever I want whenever I want. I could even shop to my heart’s content (even though I couldn’t even afford most of the items on sale). I even ran into a couple of friends of mine and we talked briefly but then I lost track of them because of the crowds.

I had forgotten how crowded the festival had gotten in recent years. (I’m old enough to remember a time when the festival was well attended but one could easily find a seat to a show about 10-15 minutes before it began and the food lines were shorter.) The photo below of the ticket booth provides a general idea of how crowded the entire festival was. There were performers outside to entertain the waiting crowd and even King Henry VIII mingled among the crowd.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

Once I got inside the festival there were plenty of things to see and do.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

This person specialized in making work of art from chocolate. I tasted the shredded chocolate that was provided as free samples and it was really awesome. But I ended up not buying any of the chocolate partly because it was expensive and partly because I would’ve been very reluctant to eat up the exquisite art.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

Here are some more scenes from the festival.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

Believe it or not but these wooden owls in the photo below are actually whistles. They were sold in the booth that was manned by the House of Musical Traditions.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

I only caught one show during my day at the festival. The crowds were so massive that I had to arrive to the show a half-an-hour before it began in order to ensure that I would even get a decent seat. The show I saw featured a sword-swallowing magician named Johnny Fox and his belly dancing female assistant.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

The only reason why I didn’t catch any other show was because of the massive crowds. It was such a hassle trying unsuccessfully to find a seat for other shows that I gave up and I focused on just walking around and seeing the shops and other exhibitions. I managed to see some street performers who just performed spontaneously but I basically focused on taking my time to walk around and not drive myself ragged trying to make some schedule.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

The next few photos are from a booth called Craft Meisters, which specializes in making clothes and shoes for American Girl dolls and the Build-A-Bear stuffed animals. That booth even had a hand-embroidered sign denoting who they are, which I thought was a unique touch.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

I liked these funky leather covers for tissue boxes, books, and blank journals.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

The Signs of the Spirit booth sold religious symbols crafted out of wood, such as the Unitarian Universalist flaming chalice.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

Here are some more scenes from the festival.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

The next few photos are of the Bee Folks booth, which included an actual beehive, a variety of honey, and candles made from beeswax.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

Here are some more scenes from the festival.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012
Maryland Renaissance Festival, September 23, 2012

Having attended the festival on my own I have to say that it wasn’t too bad. I got to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. But, despite the huge crowds, I still felt a bit lonely because I didn’t have anyone with me that I could share my experiences with. I also found the huge crowds very tiring after a while. I don’t think I will do what my husband’s step-father did and return back to the festival alone the following weeks. The huge crowds were too much of a hassle to deal with on a weekly basis. The only way I’ll come back this year is if there are friends who are planning to go and they invite me to go along. Otherwise, I have had my fill of the Maryland Renaissance Festival for 2012.