Food, fights and fools: A guide to the Renaissance Festival as it starts this weekend

The 30th annual Ohio Renaissance Festival runs Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday for nine weekends, Aug. 31-Oct. 27. CONTRIBUTED/TOM GILLIAM
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The 30th annual Ohio Renaissance Festival runs Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday for nine weekends, Aug. 31-Oct. 27. CONTRIBUTED/TOM GILLIAM

With 150 artisans selling crafts in eight locations and nearly 20 vendors selling everything from bourbon chicken to pizza to half-pound Guinness hot dogs, you could spend an entire day at the Ohio Renaissance Festival just shopping and eating (and drinking).

Of course, it’d be silly to travel back in time 400 years just to eat a Shakespearean chicken wing, so it’s no surprise the festival’s biggest draw is the nearly 30 entertainers on 15 stages, encompassing theatre, music, acrobatics, comedy, and animals.

Check out the highlights below, followed by a rundown of the fest’s many “themed” weekends:

Full Armor Joust

Every year, the Knights of Valour come to the Ohio RenFest to put on a full armor jousting competition. Please note that full armor jousting means it’s all real. People can die. Jousting is the hardest-hitting contact sport in the world. A pair of football players colliding at full speed doesn’t even come close. (Arena of Champions, 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m.)

The Swordsmen

Dirk and Guido are a pair of fencers who exchange verbal barbs as fast as they exchange thrusts and parries in this extremely kid-friendly show. (Swordsmen’s Theatre, 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m.)

Pirate Comedy Stunt Show

Watch these swashbucklers swing from the rigging to the crow’s nest, experiencing many mishaps as they raid villages seeking treasure. (Shipwreck Stage, 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m.)

Christophe the Insultor

This Elizabethan version of Don Rickles is an equal opportunity roaster. Our advice is not to attend if you don’t want to be singled out, and this also might be a good time to send the kids away to get their faces painted or something. (The Dirty Duchess, noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.)

Moonie the Magnif’Cent

This unique entertainer brings a lost art back to life. Using juggling, balancing, whistling and gestures, Moonie will make you laugh until you cry without speaking a single word. (Swordsmen’s Theatre, 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m.)

Axel the Sot

You may have heard Axel on the Dr. Demento radio show. Many people perform music and comedy, but none do it so well while also so completely inebriated as Axel the Sot. (Lorelei Biergarten, 11:30 a.m., Shipwreck Stage, 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m.)

Mudde Show!

You may be familiar with classic literary works such as “Beowulf” and “Dante’s Inferno,” but you’ve never heard it bold by two half-naked men covered in mud. English class was never this much fun. The Mudde boys will also be performing “The Viking Show” and, new this year, “Jerkules.”

The Da Vinci Bros Comedy Operas

Introducing audiences to Leonardo Da Vinci’s equally talented but somewhat obscure brother … Bob. With four different shows, Bob Da Vinci will entertain while turning the audience into an orchestra/sound engineer. (Shipwreck Stage, 11:45 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.)

The Sirens

The Shady Lady Theatre Company presents this female quintet and their repertoire of spicy, saucy songs. It’s all PG until the Naughty Bawdy Pub Show starts. (3 Fools Pub, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.)

Cirqua Lapin

Dave and Miss Felix are a pair of illusionists who add humor to the magic. (Washer Well, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.)

The Rick & Jan Show

This comedy variety show stars married couple, Rick and Jan, and their trained pig. (Reveler’s Stage, 12:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m.)

The Kamikaze Fireflies

If these comedic acrobats look familiar, it’s because you saw them on “America’s Got Talent.” Their antics include a human hamster wheel, whip cracking, a juggling perch pole, and more. (Kamikaze Fireflies Stage, 12:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m.)

Harper & The Minstrel

If you want to get seriously educational for just a few minutes (still over a beer, of course), this act plays authentic Renaissance music on a dozen traditional instruments, including the dulcimer, psaltery, wooden flute, baroque guitar, and the viola de gamba. (Lorelei Biergarten, 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.)

Ebeneezer Grumpypants

On loan from Scotland, Ebeneezer will tell you about the faerie folk in his native land through stories, verse and, um, personal experiences, always reminding us of the cardinal rule, that faeries are food, not friends.

Miami Valley Falconry

This live “bird of prey” show includes goshawks and Harris hawks. Learn about hunting techniques and what each falcon said about your social status in the Elizabethan world.

THEMED WEEKENDS

Time Traveler’s Weekend

Dress as your favorite character from a movie, TV show, comic book, or sci-fi fantasy work, and embark on a time traveling adventure. There’ll be costume contests for adults and children (Sept. 7-8, $15.72)

Pirates Weekend

There’s no better way to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day than at the Ohio RenFest. Yes, such a holiday exists, it has since 1995, and is the only holiday to be inspired by a sports injury (“Aarrgh!”). Come out and greet your fellow pirates with a good “Ahoy, maties!” while enjoying the Pirate Stunt Show and Pirate Play Time. (Sept. 14-15)

Feast of Fools

Jesters, or “fools,” were a big part of Elizabethan court life. For this special weekend, the streets of the fest will be filled with fools and their clowning. (Sept. 28-29)

Highland Weekend

The RenFest will celebrate Scottish highland heritage with traditional highlander games and a performance by the Tartan Terrors, who mix hard-driving rock with Celtic dance, folklore and humor (Oct. 5-6).

Barbarian Invasion

The fest will be overrun by barbarian ravagers on this weekend. The featured performer will be Albannach, urging the raids on with their bass drumbeats and single bagpipe. (Oct. 12-13)

Romance Weekend

Spend Sweetest Day at the RenFest with your sweetheart. There will be a mass renewal of vows ceremony in St. Peter’s Chapel. (Oct. 19-20)

Trick or Treats

A seasonal weekend especially designed for the wee ones. Kids 12 and younger are admitted free and can trick-or-treat around the village and decorate pumpkins. There’ll be costume contests for the kids and adults (Oct. 26-27)


HOW TO GO

What: Ohio Renaissance Festival

Where: 10542 E. State Route 73, Waynesville

When: Aug. 31-Oct. 27, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Monday

Cost: $19-$23 (adults), $7.50-$9.50 (children aged 5-12), free for children 5 and younger

More info: 513-897-7000 or www.renfestival.com.

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