One week-end left, this is a perfect itenerary for the hot Saturday we are expecting, and be aware that all of my itineraries are youth friendly, although “Taking Indiana Jones to the AZRF” itinerary is surely better without toddlers or small children.
Although I enjoy the comedies of Master Will, and cherish his tragedies, my favorite writings are his sonnets with their hidden treasures of love, laughter and musicality, but finding a winning performance of even one of them is challenging. The following itenerary will allow the novice and veteran AZRF attendee alike, to find and enjoy the hidden treasures of the Arizona Renaissance Faire, which like the sonnets have rare beauty but are often overlooked in the raucous mass of material available.
Again the best day at faire begins the day before with discount tickets purchased from Fry’s Food Store’s customer service desk, pre-hydration (drink some water at dinner and before bed and if you wake during the night to pee from all that water) and a good nights sleep. May I also recommend sunblock, hats and/or a parasol. Parasols not only help you blend in with the local color they provide movable shade and are available at Cost Plus World Market or AZRF vendors, the on-site ones cost more but become an annually useful souvenire.
Travel east on Interstate 60 past Gold Canyon to arrive early at the Faire grounds, say “9”ish. This not only improves the proximity of parking but means you can start taking photos with gorgeously costumed patrons and be front and center for royalty’s arrival and the front gate show.
When the canon sounds (and DO plug your ears, its a real canon and REAL loud) head into the gate and bear to your right where lovely lads and lassies will willingly sell you tasty beverages, I recommend an iced Dirty Chai or if sweetly delicious is your thing there is this Princess caramel thing…ask your servers advice and tell them what you like and I promise you won’t be disappointed! Next door add a pastry (I personally am addicted to the canoles, being Italian and all, but I have yet to hear any complaints about anything bought there).
Take this continental breakfast and head on into the fray; to your left just past the Royal Pavilion seat yourself up front at the Fairhaven Theater for Don Juan and Miguel’s “Renaissance Man” at 10:15 AM, although the act itself is hardly a well kept secret, this show often is. Drink your coffee with caution for the show is an intelligent (at times) laugh fest that one can enjoy alone or with the whole family, and coffee through the nose is painful.
After the show head back towards the entrance and the little stage tucked in beside the lovely booth from which you first purchased coffee (The Cappuccino Inn). You will know you are close when you hear the fae-like fiddling of Neidfyre, or perhaps if one is not distracted by all the shiny shops, she will only be beginning and you will be able to draw close enough to watch her bow fly(her show starts at 11:00).
After Neidfyre, stay at Monk’s Park stage. At 11:30 Melangell (pronounced Melanith) will take you back to the time of druids, sidhe and selkie in Gaelic song and story (in fact rumors are that the woman bard be one of these herself!). In sooth, many years ago, when I first heard her perform for the Queen before she even had her own stage, I was moved to tears at the quality of her singing voice, and her stories remain favorites of mine to this day.
Next head to the left, seated on the green grassy oasis between the stage and Turkey Legs is a woman dressed in off- white surrounded by pigments and possibly children. She is the AZRF’s own Painted Lady and one can indulge their inner child and outer artist by requesting a story and illustrating her garment. Early painters have the cleanest canvas but there is no bad time to listen to her artful telling of imaginative stories.
After your inner painter has had their say, and the story has wound to its conclusion, head back into the lanes keeping the tantalizing food to your left. Part of your assignment today (if you choose to accept it), is to attend to the musicians tucked in all the green and grassy bits, there are extraordinary ones all about the grounds. One such Lady of lyrical light is to be found as you leave the story lady. After gifting your ears (and maybe your loved one by taking a musician or two home on a CD) head past the rest of the kitchen’s, the knife and the axe toss and take a break at the lovely non-period restrooms (usable flushies!)
Moisturizing wax (yes, I do have some and I do like it) will beckon as you continue back towards the Rialto stage, as will multiple other sights and smells. Enjoy the journey and take your time, although I do recommend buying some real hydration at this point if you haven’t yet. (I like Arnold Palmers, myself, a nice off-menu blend of brewed tea and lemonade available at any Pop Shop.) Destination is the 1:15 show of the Clan Tynker Family Circus. None of these siblings had to run away to join a circus, instead they became one, the acrobatic antics of these actual siblings could as comfortably fill a Big Top Arena as a Renaissance Faire Stage, and humorous moments included, they are poetry in motion.
After Clan Tynker it’s time for a bit of Dungeon’s and Dragon’s, so first to the Dungeon. Heading back towards the beginning of the faire, passing and browsing the shops, you will notice the Dungeon Tour. All art requires its quotient of pain and sacrifice and this artful and kitschy attraction will require a dollar per person sacrifice and colorfully highlights many of the painful reasons I prefer visiting the century, not living in it.
Pick up a cold drink at the Crown Pub and continue for further instruction in how well we have it with our Super Targets and modern fashion as you continue around the corner and visit the Croft and Local Yokel’s Village. The King and Queen and their courts are visiting Fairhaven this festival day, so the local peasants are working extra hard at spinning, baking and blacksmithing but love to pause and answer your questions.
There, by Local Yokels, in the lovely shade of the green, look for Lady Tess who at 2:30 will explain the lengths and layers we ladies and lords go to to be Renaissance fashion plates. Now on to the Dragons I promised, continue around the curve to the Storybook Castle, again this walk through will require a mere dollar entrance fee but I promise the charm and creativity of its dioramas are worth much more, and there is a quite fierce dragon!
It is now the hottest part of the day so I am leading you to the coolest spot (and cleanest restrooms) on the site. Travel past the Farm and petting zoo, feel free to wander in a bit if petting wee sheep appeals, and then keeping in line with the shops head into the historically accurate narrow market path heading to the Mud Stage. If you are hot and hungry, on your left will be incredibly delicious Italian Gelato, sandwiched in between the shops of enticing clothing, pottery and jewelry. Arrive in time for the 3:45 Theatre in the Ground by the Wyld Men, a show reminiscent of Monty Python style humor where all parts are played by the core cast and improv is the result of a well known script. Not only is this show funny, but as I said earlier, this is the coolest temperature wise in the whole place and the adjacent restrooms are always clean and well stocked flushies with rarely a line.
After the show, grab a bottle of water or large iced drink at Lancer’s Pub and head on through the lane past musical instruments on your right and pirate booty on the left (still narrow but not the way you came). Browse and fondle the shiny things, maybe even purchase a bobble or two, till you find on your right the entrance to the Falconer’s Heath. Nature is the purest poetry so this sonnet day will end with the 5:00 Bird’s of Prey Show. Arrive early to sit in the shade, (a burning reason to do the afternoon Heath shows) then relax and prepare to be entertained and amazed.
Now its off to the cars, and if ye have the dubloons remaining, can I recommend making the incredible sonnet like day complete with a cabriolet ride to your car. If you pass one without passenger, just speak to the drivers and negotiate a treat for your feet as you leave.
In conclusion, whether you use my itenerary or design your own all of the AZRF acts mentioned and not mentioned are as worthy of your time and tips, this is just an attempt to give direction to those overwhelmed by the options. Tomorrow is the AZRF Itinerary for your inner Indiana Jones.