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Locker Room

September 6, 2012
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Playing pretend

By Dave Mable

Period re-enactors show Renaissance Faire-goers the brutal sports of Medieval times, such as sword-fighting and jousting, some of which allow spectator participation. Photo courtesy of AtTheFaire.com

The 10th Annual Renaissance Faire is once again transforming Festival Park (located on the east side of Four-Mile Creek at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park) into a slice of Olde England, complete with a castle, shops, eateries, pubs and competitive arenas. Although belly dancing, pretend sword-fighting and jousting re-enactments may not be sports typical of Cityview’s Locker Room column, they are none-the-less physical, athetic and entertaining — definitely worth the drive out to Des Moines’ east side.

After parking at Sleepy Hollow, on Dean Avenue (just east of the State Fairgrounds), Ren Faire-goers will be transported back into the Middle Ages in the shadows of Medieval architecture and a cast of period characters who complete the atmosphere and add to the fun.

A Medieval village of shopkeepers, bakers, knights, Vikings, commoners and courtiers wander the streets and buildings, interacting with guests, being sure not to break from character throughout the six-day festival.

“A member of the royal court included us in a task to spy on certain members of the court. We didn’t really understand, but it was funny,” said one Faire-goer of the 2011 festival. “The Vikings who were dancing with the belly dancers had us in tears, so they had to come harass us for thinking their dancing was funny. They were all in perfect character; we loved that!”

All part of the show, performers meander about, entertaining the crowds as they go. Magicians perform magic feats of the era, fire-breathing Vikings wow children and adults alike and musicians play Olde English instruments, such as bagpipes, mandolins and flutes. But for those who crave action, the sword-wielding Brotherhood of Steel perform thrice daily, as do comedic swordplay demonstrators Shattock and the seductive Danza Mystique belly dancers. The brutal Joust Evolution performance occurs twice per day, so it’s almost impossible to miss, and it’s not difficult to see it all.

If the action, shopping, music and entertainment makes you hungry, all kinds of foods with a European flair are served at the many shops and restaurants. Whether you have a taste for bangers and mash, Scotch eggs, brats and kraut or the common fair foods like corn dogs and funnel cakes, there will be a taste to suite ever member of the family.

Quench your thirst with olde style British ales, a pint of German beer or a truly Scottish Rum (and Coke?). And for the under-21 crowd, homemade root beer, cream soda and lemonades are also offered.

On the main stage, the Bawdy Buccaneers, a Midwest touring troupe, will entertain both young and old with pirate comedy three times daily. Other acts will play the Pirate ship stage including music by Cecil’s Harp, Danza Mystique’s belly dancing show and the Glastonbury Revelers who will bring their madrigal music to the stage twice each day. A full schedule of entertainment will fill the stage from morning to night.

The Des Moines Renaissance Faire is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2, 8-9 and 15-16. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. A one-day adult pass is $16, two days for $25. Children age 5-12 are $8, and under 5 are free. Group discounts are available by calling (515) 262-4100. All shows and a prize-laden treasure hunt for the kids are included with the price of admission.

For information, including entertainment schedules, Festival Park maps and tickets, go to www.dmrenfair.com. CV



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