Renaissance in the Arizona Desert

By: Marissa Burkett, Staff Writer


Last Saturday, Valentine’s Day, love was in the air at the 27th Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival! Thousands gathered at the fairgrounds, outside of Queen Creek, to revel at the mastery of the jousting knights, laugh at the jesters and throw tomatoes at the town dunce.

Normally, it is custom to dress and act in a way appropriate for the time period.  Workers and revelers don Renaissance garb, speak in Old English and drink mead throughout the day. Many of the visitors dress up too, though they rarely actually achieve historical accuracy. Despite their best efforts, most of the amateurs looked more or less like pirates.

The fairgrounds, over 30 acres, are packed with events, rides, shows and other attractions. We ate a king’s ransom of turkey legs, scotch eggs and other decidedly non-historic fare while taking in “adults-only” shows on one of the 13 stages peppered throughout. Carnival-like games from ax throwing to arrow shooting drew large crowds (my own white night won $30 on a rock wall). There was a small village where artisans demonstrated crafts and trades from the period including blacksmithing, weaving on a loom and other handiwork. There was also a medieval torture museum.

Our personal favorite part of the fair was The Jousting Tournament. Four handsome knights competed on their hardy steeds for the Queen and King’s favor. My chosen knight, Don Vincenzo, won the second joust of the day with 13 points. That, however, was nowhere near the previous week’s record of 21 points by Sir Maxmillion (that is actually a very impressive jousting score). Many of the Festival’s performers, artisans and revelers travel with the festival for 10 months of the year, sleeping in their trailers in new towns every month.

Claire Xie (MS, ’15, China) also attended the Festival last weekend. “That was my first rime to go to a cultural festival like this. I was amazed by the environment and enthusiasm of all who participated. As a Chinese student, I wish I could bring such an event here also and enlighten the people of the bright history of Chinese legacy.”

Want to know more? I have made a short video of the days events.  Link to come later. Huzzah!

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