(Image via kingrichardsfaire.net)
Staff Writer: Maya Arruda
A party of daring and intrepid adventures has decided to venture forth on an epic quest alongside your party into the verdant forests of Carver, Massachusetts, in search of the mythical faire.
The legend of King Richard’s Faire, which you’ve heard of time and time again in the taverns or among your guild, is as follows: every Fall, a mysterious change overtakes the Carver forests, the ordinary woods transformed into a magical gathering of street performers, festival food, carnival games, and merchants eager to sell their wares, only to disappear without a trace before the emergence of winter’s first chill.
Our adventurers are a joint party of the UMassD Tabletop Games Club and the History Club, two rival guilds now united in purpose to experience and enjoy the well-renowned King Richard’s Faire.
Unfortunately, this quest was, perchance, a tad mistimed, for last week was the special themed weekend for LARPers and tabletop game enthusiasts. The day our adventurers departed, October 14th, was the married couples-themed weekend where spouses could renew their vows in the romantic Renaissance woods.
For all our honored travelers from far beyond the quaint region of New England, King Richard’s Faire is an annual Renaissance fair that typically lasts for two months. It is well known for its massive turkey legs, even more massive billboard ads on the highway, and somehow even more massive flocks of LARPers/cosplayers. Arguably, it is THE Renaissance fair for all of Massachusetts.
Despite always knowing King Richard’s Faire was just there around the hyperbolic corner, I had never actually experienced its famed magical experience, so I joined the interclub party on their quest.
We left Saturday morning and quickly came face to face with our first boss fight: Traffic the Excruciating One. An endless line of cars added a solid 20 minutes to our journey, and all of those cars had the same destination; three guesses where they were all heading, and the first two didn’t count.
Lines would prove to be a running theme in King Richard’s Faire. There were the food ticket lines, where one could buy magical slips of pink paper that could be traded for sustenance and libations; the food lines, in which I waited half an hour to acquire Ye Olde Fryes only for some odious individual to cut in front of me once I was about to order; and the game lines, which at least went quickly.
Bars stocked with mead and ale, the two most sacred libations within these mystical woods, were readily available at multiple bars throughout the fair with lines that ranged from reasonably short to “Oh My God Why.”
I didn’t feel like shilling out ten bucks – sorry, ten tickets – for one tiny cup of flavored mead, so instead, I shilled out twelve tickets for a normal-sized plastic Solo cup of tap beer. They even threw in a sugar rim for free. What a great value.
I can no longer make fun of Disney water prices. I’m starting to think that this fair was run by King Richard I because charging five dollars for a bottle of Dasani water in the woods has to be some kind of crime. Unfortunately, there is no Robin Hood around to undermine the Faire monarchy and distribute the wealth to the poor (i.e. me: a college student).
The costumes were pretty great, in all honesty. It simply added to the sheer absurdity of having a medieval fair in the middle of the woods in some Massachusetts suburb. There is nothing more entertainingly surreal than watching a group of Gregorian monks club dancing to a bagpipe duet while the historically accurate medieval knight Sir Boba Fett headbanged in the background.
Of all the numerous and amazingly well-done costumes, some of my favorites were seeing the Wind Archon Venti and Tanjiro Kamado in the medieval fairgrounds because, obviously, both were integral figures in pre-Renaissance history. As I am sure, the history club will agree.
However, the Dark Ages peasant cosplayer wearing a coarse brown tunic with the supreme logo has to be my number one favorite thing, in general, about the fair. We all know well about how HypeBeast culture was widespread among the peasantry under Feudalism. The Supreme Potato Sack is a timeless and iconic fit.
Of course, there was a costume rental shop inside the fair if one wanted to fit in.
The vendors were pretty interesting, even though I was way too broke to actually do more than window shop. The clothes shops seemed very good with garments I really liked until I saw the price tag. All of the craftsmanship really was superb. My personal favorite was the real swords shop next to the jousting field.
The shows, by far and large, were absolutely amazing and definitely worth the ticket price. Normally, fair admissions tickets are $40 a piece, but the kind heads of the UMassD Tabletop game and History guilds have shouldered half of the ticket price for our party. Yet, a day of live shows within the fair for no additional price are definitely worth the whole $40 price.
King Richard is many things, but above all, he is a man of great taste. A true man of culture, if you will, and as such, the king has spared no effort to get top-notch entertainment for his fair.
The street performance shows reflect that in both quality and variety. They had live musicians, aerial acrobats, stunt artists, comedians, and jousters. The jousting was certainly impressive though hard to see with my middling height of 5’5”. One of the stunt artists, the Unicycling Unicorn, juggled a club, a torch, and a sharp knife while riding a 12’ tall unicycle in unicorn cosplay.
The undisputed best show, in my humble opinion, was the Sturdy Beggars’ Mud Show. Hosted in their very own mud stage next to the sword forge, this dynamic comedy duo was the highlight of my day at the King’s Faire.
This comedy sketch pitted one half of the audience against the other to force each half’s representative beggar to eat mud. In total, the beggars raised over $100 in just one show for one of them to eat the mud and prove that we were the better side. Our side won, and the beggar leading the other side ate the mud of defeat.
Their last joke to end the show really stuck with me. To paraphrase the Sturdy Beggars, the only thing more disgusting than a man-eating mud are the people who paid to see it. It could have been the $12 beer, but that was way more profound than I expected for a comedic farce about eating mud.
All in all, our quest to the King Richard’s Faire ended in unmitigated success, and we ended with light hearts and lighter wallets.