Friday, June 29, 2018

Theresa's Travels: West Virginia's First Renaissance Festival

This coming weekend is your last chance of the season to experience the WV Renaissance Festival, located near Lewisburg, WV.  And if you're able to attend...I cannot recommend it enough!

The weekend before last, my family, plus my son's friend, piled in the car to make the easy trip down the WV Turnpike to see for ourselves the first ever WV Renaissance Festival.  The kids and I have never been to a Renaissance Festival, but my boyfriend had previously attended a fairly well-known event in Ohio many years ago.  While my only experience with what to expect was stuff I'd seen on television and online over the years, both we newbies and our veteran RenFaire family member were all completely blown away by how awesome this event was.

Huzzah for the Earl of Essex!
Located on the Hollow Hills farm, the setting for the festival was idyllic. I mean, it was absolutely stunning. Before you even left the parking area, you were transported back to the middle ages.  The vehicles and other modern necessities were carefully concealed from view. Chickens roamed freely.  Every where you went, you were greeted by beautifully dressed staff members who never broke character and who went out of their way to give you an interactive experience. The games, performance areas, vendors, and other activities were carefully spread over the rolling hillside and even incorporated the nearby woods.

It was one of these wooded areas in which we had our experience that makes this blog post skirt the edges of the paranormal!  No, we didn't see any ghosts or Bigfoot roaming the farm...but my son and his friend walked away with a belief in the fae!

Walking along the path, we were met by a well-dressed courtesan who prompted us to join him and his crew in the forest maze in search of the fae's hidden treasure.  He was speaking with a thick accent, so I'm not entirely sure what word he was using (and to my untrained ears, there are so many similar words in the fairly realm) but I BELIEVE he was referring to a group of fae known as the Seelie Court.  According to Carol Rose's book, Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns and Goblins:

"In British folklore there is a subdivision of the fairies according to their character, and these groups are known as the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court.  The Seelie Court are those Trooping Fairies who are generally engaged in their own society with royalty, nobility, and a community existing relatively peacefully within the human world.  They enjoy feasting, hunting, and dancing in the earth's rural idyll.  They comprise such groups as the elves and the Sidhe."

Aaron and I sat in the shade while we sent the kids off in search of fairy treasure, joking with them that we hoped the fairies wouldn't replace them with changelings.  And, when the kids hadn't returned 15 minutes later, we started to worry that maybe they HAD been taken by the fairies!  Aaron went off in search of them, and while he was gone, the kids made their way back.  However, during the time where I was alone at the beginning of the maze, I was joined by two young ladies who were also seeking shade from the blistering sun.  While the kids and I waited for Aaron to find HIS way back, I asked them if they had seen any fairies or had found any fairy treasure.  We had a nice little chat about the tricky nature of the fae, and both kids decided that this all had to have been made up and that fairies weren't real.  As these words left my son's mouth, one of the young ladies sitting in front of us turned to him, and with a wink, told him that he needed to be careful what he said, especially in the woods, because he never knew who was listening.  She then handed him and his friend some gold coins.

I will never forget the look on those kids' faces! Aaron finally made his way out of the maze, and as we
They also met a Fire Fairy who gifted them with joy.
left to go on to our next adventure, they couldn't shut up about how fairies were really real and that they had met one.  It was a magical experience, one that I don't think my son will soon forget.

Overall, each of us had a wonderful time, despite the sweltering heat.  The kids got to throw knives/throwing stars, and Aaron and I got to throw axes.  We watched some hilarious nuns make fart and boob jokes, and cheered on our favorite jouster. The kids also got to dig for gemstones in a 'mine,' ride an elephant, meet a mermaid, and of course, get lost in the woods with a fairy.  And that's not even half of it! 

The Hanlon-Lees Action Theater did an outstanding job with this festival, especially considering it was the first ever such event in West Virginia.  Unfortunately, the event is only being held throughout June, and tomorrow/Sunday is your last chance to visit this year!  Again, if you get the chance to go, GO! And if you do, I hope you have an equally magical experience as two kids from Hurricane did.

WV Renaissance Festival Facebook Page
WV Renaissance Festival Website

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